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    Sale 2120

    Photographs By Ansel Adams From A California Collection

    11 April 2008, New York, Rockefeller Plaza

  • Lot 1058

    ANSEL ADAMS (1902-1984)

    Clearing Winter Storm, Yosemite Valley, 1944

    Price Realised  

    Estimate

    ANSEL ADAMS (1902-1984)
    Clearing Winter Storm, Yosemite Valley, 1944
    gelatin silver mural print, printed 1970-1975
    40½ x 54 5/8in. (102.5 x 139cm.); flush-mounted


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    There are two other, smaller prints of this image in the collection - lots 1000 and 1084.

    Pre-Lot Text

    'While living in Yosemite, I had great opportunity to follow the light and storms, hoping always to encounter exciting situations. There were hundreds of spectacular weather events over the years, but the opportunities to photograph them were limited to accidents of time and place...Clearing Winter Storm came about on an early December day. The storm was first of heavy rain, which turned to snow and began to clear about noon. I drove to a place called Inspiration Point, which commands a marvelous vista of Yosemite Valley. Rapidly changing conditions such as this one can create decision problems for the photographer. A moment of beauty is revealed and photographed; clouds, snow or rain then obscure the scene, only to clear in a different way with another inviting prospect. My visualization of the final print was quite vigorous. The subject had a very dramatic potential. The image could not be simply contrasty; all the values required interpretation consistent with a deep, rich expression of substance and light...It is a fairly strong negative, and looks like one that would be easy to print. It is not! A certain amount of dodging and burning was required to achieve the tonal balance demanded by my visualization. I never retouch a negative. I think of the negative as the 'score' and the print as a 'performance' of that score, which conveys the emotional aesthetic ideas of the photographer at the time of making the exposure.' (Ansel Adams, Examples: The Making of 40 Photographs)
    In making this photograph, as well as in his countless other imposing views of Yosemite, Adams was following in the footsteps of nineteenth century pioneers of American landscape photography - notably Carleton E. Watkins.
    Typical of Adams' mural prints, this image is unsigned and flush-mounted on thick board for exhibition purposes. What is remarkable for a print of this size - made after all in a pre-digital age - is the resulting high definition of surface detail. There is very little of the 'fuzziness' one might expect of an extreme enlargement made from an 8 x 10 inch negative. This photograph is an extraordinary object in its own right - a testament to Adams' superb printing skills. In this size it is, of course, also a very rare example of one of his finest and best-loved images.