Robert Adams is one of the luminaries among the landscape photographers. He especially has a prominence with his scenes of “the American West”; California, Colorado, Oregon. His photographs mostly exhibit the landscapes, which are transformed by the effects of civilization. Therefore they usually contain the image of natural beauty both with the signs of exploitation and so the degrading motives accordingly. So a landscape is considered with the solid affects of the urbanization and the industrial growth; then the audience may easily observe the malevolent affects of these notions on natural beauties. Without a need for any speculations, it is so obvious, that the reason of all the deterioration of the environment is the man.
“What I hoped to do was to show what seemed to be going terribly wrong in a place that I cared a lot about, but simultaneously to suggest that there are elements that remained safe, clean, beautiful, and would never be destroyed. I really wanted to talk about both those things at once.'” As he mentions here as well, by showing the ugly vision of civilization, within the diminishing beauty of nature, Adams successfully expresses the impact of human activity on nature. Although the target is human; Adams photography usually devoid the human subject, but it better expresses the traces of human existence, such as the “smoke of civilization,” industrial constructions, elements of urbanization etc. The disturbance on the integrity of this beauty creates skepticism, by making the audience, to start questioning themselves. It is Adam’s aim, which is truly succeeded, that the audience accepts the idea, which shows himself as the subject of all the bad causes. This leads the audience to consider the place he lives and his affect on that area, so the artist’s goal for enlightening the audience is achieved.
Although, Adams focuses of the human’s effect on environment, the beauties of nature covers a dominant part over the images. By emphasizing the remaining vitality, he insistently shows us, that the beauty of the environment is not entirely disappeared. This is a very important point, mentioned by Adams, which keeps the hope alive for audience, so they never give up trying to come up with solutions.
When the audience is looking at Adams’ makings, the first thing he will notice is that he tries to show the beauty of the nature and the effects of urbanization on environment. We, as a group, are mostly impressed the photographs, which he tried to show effect of so-called technology on nature. He does a brilliant job in showing those outcomes of urbanization and at the same time tries to prove the nature is still beautiful.
In the photo “Crossed Palms”; his aim is to mention there are stil beauties left in the nature. Those trees are standing together, against everything about “modernization”. If there were just one tree standing like that, the photo would lost nearly all of its meaning but now this piece means a lot to the audience. This one took a place in an exhibit of Adams and about this exibit Adams says: 'What I hoped to do was to show what seemed to be going terribly wrong in a place that I cared a lot about, but simultaneously to suggest that there are elements that remained safe, clean, beautiful, and would never be destroyed. I really wanted to talk about both those things at once.'
“He employs camera and film to express his respect for the land and to record how urban and industrial growth have changed it, all the while insisting that beauty in the environment has not entirely disappeared.” says Karen Freedman, about Robert Adams. In the piece, Burning Oil Sludge”, he portrays the effect of industry over the nature. It is not possible to stay calm against what had happened there. Actually that is the way he wants us to feel; angry and upset about those consequences and since he achieves that, we can say he is very successful.
Lastly, in the “Housing Tract”, this tract house symbolizes the industrial growth (this symbolizm can be seen in his other photographs too). Again in this one the evil (industry) is presented and as usual he is trying to answer the question of “Why people work so much to damage the nature?” and “What is their problem with it?”. He tries to increase the awareness of people and wakes them up in an artistic way. As a conclusion, it is very easy for us to say that he makes a great job in showing the other side of “growth” and it is very hard not to get impressed by his photographs.
Art21, Inc. “Robert Adams – Biography.” 2001 – 2007
Freedman, Karen. “Robert Adams - Landscapes of Harmony and Dissonance.” 2003 – 2008.
Siple, Ashley. “ROBERT ADAMS.” Museum of Contemporary Photography.2005 - .2008.