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Robert Adams (b. 1937)
Robert Adams (b. 1937)

Nebraska State Highway 2, Box Butte County, Nebraska, 1978

Robert Adams (b. 1937)
Nebraska State Highway 2, Box Butte County, Nebraska, 1978
gelatin silver print, printed 1979
signed, titled, dated, print date in pencil and copyright credit stamp (on the verso)
image: 8 7/8 x 11 1/8in. (22.5 x 28.6cm.)
sheet: 10 7/8 x 13 7/8in (27.6 x 35.2cm.)
From the Missouri West, Aperture, 1980, p. 11; To Make it Home: Photographs of the American West, 1965-1986, Aperture, 1989, p. 175; Tree Line: The Hasselblad Award 2009, Steidl, 2010, p. 103; The Place We Live, vol. I, Steidl, 2010, p. 150; What Can We Believe Where?: Photographs of the American West, Yale University Art Gallery, 2010, frontispiece

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Lot Essay

What a landscape photographer traditionally tries to do is to show what is past, present, and future at once. You want ghosts and the daily news and prophecy... It’s presumptuous and ridiculous. You fail all the time.
—Robert Adams

Robert Adams has photographed a changing American landscape for roughly five decades, first coming to international attention through inclusion in the seminal New Topographics exhibition of 1976, curated by William Jenkins at the George Eastman House, Rochester. His work has long been a touchstone for artists concerned with the land, our relationship to it, and the politics of urbanization. Adams’ work readily stands in the company of such predecessors as Walker Evans and Robert Frank.

Adams’s photographs encourage us to look and to ask questions. With a visual language that is poignant and unassuming, Adams infuses his work with a quiet earnestness, matched by an intellectual and moral rigor. Upwards of forty books on his work have been published from 1970 to the present, the very titles of the books hinting at his deep affinity for the land, and larger, philosophical concerns: A Portrait in Landscapes, Summer Nights, Walking, Prairie, Beauty in Photography, Along Some Rivers, Questions for an Overcast Day, What We Bought.

In the fall of 2010, Yale University Art Gallery organized an ambitious, touring retrospective of his work titled The Place We Live. Among many awards, Adams has received the Guggenheim and MacArthur Foundation fellowships, and in 2006, the Deutsche Börse Prize. In 2009, he was awarded the Hasselblad Foundation International Award in Photography, and in 2014 was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Letters.

Nebraska State Highway, #2, 1978 was made when the artist lived in Colorado. The Great Plains was a continual source of both inspiration and communion while he worked on projects in and around the booming and rapidly sprawling Denver metropolitan area. The image was first published in 1980 in From the Missouri West. The print offered here was made at the time of the negative, a rare instance of a contemporaneous print coming to market.

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