Press Release

Phoenix Art Museum Presents Exhibition of Photographic Prints by Ansel Adams

Event Date: 
11 January 2020 to 7 June 2020
Phoenix, Arizona
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Ansel Adams: Performing the Print Illustrates How the 20th-Century’s Foremost American Photographer Often Created Multiple Prints from a Single Negative in Pursuit of the Fullest Expression of the View as He Imagined It

From January 11 through June 7, 2020, Phoenix Art Museum will present Ansel Adams: Performing the Print, an exhibition of works by one of the 20th century’s foremost photographers, in the Doris and John Norton Family Photography Gallery. Featuring 60 photographs drawn from the Ansel Adams Archive at the Center for Creative Photography (CCP) at the University of Arizona, Performing the Print spans six decades and presents sets of prints grouped in twos and threes to demonstrate how Adams often created multiple prints of varying interpretations from his own negatives. The exhibition is the most recent collaboration between Phoenix Art Museum and CCP, which was co-founded in 1975 by Adams and then-University of Arizona president John Schaefer. 

“We are pleased to present Ansel Adams: Performing the Print to our audiences in Arizona,” said Gilbert Vicario, the Museum’s Deputy Director for Curatorial Affairs and the Selig Family Chief Curator. “The exhibition offers an intimate view into Adams’ artistic process that will intrigue both longtime admirers of his work as well as those who will experience his photographs for the first time in our galleries.”

An acclaimed photographer best known for his black-and-white images of the American West, Adams famously said that the photographic negative is like a composer’s score while the print is the performance. In Performing the Print, the artist’s choices about cropping, brightness, and overall contrast are illuminated, as multiple prints created using the same negative are showcased side by side, with several accompanied by quotations from the artist’s writings sourced from various publications to provide context. For example, a portrait of Nobutaro Harry Sumida, a naval veteran of the Spanish-American war who was the oldest resident at the Manzanar War Relocation Center in the early 1940s, is accompanied by the artist’s notes on the Japanese-American internment camp. The pairing documents an important aspect of American history while demonstrating the link between Adams’ printed works and written word.

The exhibition also features portraits of painter Georgia O’Keeffe and photographer Alfred Stieglitz, well-known images of national parks such as Yosemite National Park and Sequoia National Park, and photographs from Hawaii, Cape Cod, and Alaska. In addition, viewers are invited to examine Adams’ role as an educator, while considering how his approach evolved as his own perspective, available materials, and the field of photography transformed during his lifetime.

“The photographs in Performing the Print highlight Adams’ sensitivity as a photographic printer,” said Rebecca A. Senf, PhD, chief curator at the Center for Creative Photography, who formerly served as the Museum’s Norton Family Curator of Photography, and author of a forthcoming book on the artist entitled Making a Photographer: The Early Work of Ansel Adams. “Viewers are encourarged to discover how each hand-made print portrays a landscape expressed through the lens of Adams’ imagination.”

Over the past 13 years, the Museum and CCP have organized nearly 40 exhibitions, bringing outstanding works of 20th century and contemporary photography to wider audiences in Arizona. Ansel Adams: Peforming the Print is the first exhibition at Phoenix Art Museum solely devoted to the renowned American photographer since The Process and the Page in 2014.

About the Exhibition

Ansel Adams: Performing the Print will be on view from January 11 through June 7, 2020 in the Doris and John Norton Gallery for the Center for Creative Photography. The exhibition is organized by the Center for Creative Photography and Phoenix Art Museum. It is made possible through the generosity of the Museum’s Circles of Support and Museum Members. For more details about the exhibition, please visit our website.

Admission is free for Museum Members; veterans and active-duty military and their families; Maricopa Community College students, staff, and faculty (with ID); and youth 5 and younger. Entrance to the exhibition is included in general admission for the general public. During voluntary-donation times, the exhibition is offered to the general public with pay-what-you-wish admission. Voluntary-donation times include Wednesdays from 3 – 9 pm, the first Fridays of every month from 6 – 10 pm, and the second Sunday of each month from noon – 5 pm through December 2019. For a full breakdown of general admission prices and hours, please see our website.

About Phoenix Art Museum

Since 1959, Phoenix Art Museum has provided millions of guests with access to world-class art and experiences in an effort to ignite imaginations, create meaningful connections, and serve as a brave space for all people who wish to experience the transformative power of art. Located in Phoenix’s Central Corridor, the Museum is a vibrant destination for the visual arts and the largest art museum in the southwestern United States. Each year, more than 350,000 guests engage with critically acclaimed national and international exhibitions and the Museum’s collection of more than 19,000 works of American and Western American, Asian, European, Latin American, modern and contemporary art, and fashion design. The Museum also presents a comprehensive film program, live performances, and educational programs designed for visitors of all ages, along with vibrant photography exhibitions made possible through the Museum’s landmark partnership with the Center for Creative Photography, University of Arizona. To learn more about Phoenix Art Museum, visit our website, or call 602-257-1880.

About the Center for Creative Photography

The Center for Creative Photography is recognized as one of the world's finest academic art museums and study centers for the history of photography. The Center opened in 1975, following a meeting between then University President Dr. John Schaefer and world-renowned photographer Ansel Adams. Beginning with the archives of five living master photographers—Ansel Adams, Wynn Bullock, Harry Callahan, Aaron Siskind, and Frederick Sommer—the collection has grown to include 270 archival collections. Among these are some of the most recognizable names in 20th century North American photography: Lola Álvarez Bravo, W. Eugene Smith, Edward Weston, and Garry Winogrand. Altogether there are over eight million archival objects in the Center's collection including negatives, work prints, contact sheets, albums, scrapbooks, correspondence, writings, audiovisual materials and memorabilia. In addition to whole archival collections the Center also actively acquires individual photographs by modern and contemporary photographers. There are currently more than 110,000 works by over 2,200 photographers. A library of books, journals, and exhibition and auction catalogs including many rare publications plus an extensive oral history collection complements the archival and fine print collections. The combined art, archival, and research collections at the Center provide an unparalleled resource for research, exhibitions, loans, and traveling exhibitions. The Center has a full schedule of exhibitions, programs, and events designed to deepen an understanding of how the medium impacts society. For more details, as well as information on Center membership and ways to get involved visit

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Ansel Adams, Moon and Half Dome, Yosemite National Park, California, 1960, Gelatin silver print. © The Ansel Adams Publishing Rights Trust

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