• Photographs: The Evening Sale auction at Christies

    Sale 12203

    Photographs: The Evening Sale

    4 October 2016, New York, Rockefeller Plaza

  • Lot 16

    Robert Adams (B. 1937)

    Sunday School. A Church in a New Tract, Colorado Springs, Colorado, 1969

    Estimate

    Robert Adams (B. 1937)
    Sunday School. A Church in a New Tract, Colorado Springs, Colorado, 1969
    gelatin silver print, mounted on board
    signed, dated '1970' and inscribed in pencil (mount, verso)
    image/sheet: 5 1/2 x 6 in. (14 x 15.3 cm.)
    mount: 13 x 11 in. (33.1 x 28 cm.)


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    Depicting an outdoor session of a Sunday-school class, the suburban church and students are visually nestled in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains whose peaks rise dramatically in the background. This image is emblematic of Adams' work of the late 1960s and early 1970s, when he was still a literature professor at Colorado College. Adams’ eye is caring even when his mind is critical, and the use of light is always transcendent. A selection of pictures from this project was exhibited at the Museum of Modern Art, New York in 1971, bringing Adams' understated but penetrating photographic vision to broader attention.

    This body of work was published in 1974 as The New West: Landscapes along the Colorado Front Range, introduced by John Szarkowski in an elegant foreword in which he writes that, 'the landscape is, for us, the place we live. If we have used it badly, we cannot therefore scorn it, without scorning ourselves. If we have abused it, broken its health, and erected upon it memorials to our ignorance, it is still our place, and before we can proceed, we must learn to love it.'

    In 1975, work from this series was included by curator William Jenkins in the highly influential New Topographics exhibition at the George Eastman House, which included artists Bernd and Hilla Becher, Stephen Shore, Lewis Baltz, Nicholas Nixon, Henry Wessel, Frank Gohlke and Joe Deal.

    Prints of this image reside in the permanent collections of the Museum of Modern Art, New York, The Philadelphia Museum of Art, The Museum of Contemporary Photography, Chicago, and Yale University Art Gallery, New Haven.

    Provenance

    The artist;
    gifted by the above to the current owner, 1976.


    Literature

    Robert Adams and John Szarkowski, The New West, Aperture, New York, 1974, p. 55.
    Robert Adams, What Can We Believe Where? Photographs of the American West, Yale University Art Gallery, New Haven, 2010, pl. 45.
    Robert Adams, The Place We Live: A Retrospective of Photographs 19642009: Volume One, Yale University Art Gallery, New Haven, 2010, p. 66.