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The Modern Art Notes Podcast: Robert Adams

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This week’s Modern Art Notes Podcast features a rare interview with Robert Adams.

Adams may be the greatest living American photographer. In the 1960s and 1970s he brought a new sensibility to photographing the most classic subject in American art, the land. By emphasizing man’s impact on Colorado and its suburbs in series such as “The New West” and “What We Bought,” Adams helped pioneer art that addressed our impact on the landscape and on the Earth. While Adams is best known for his work looking at America’s consumption of Western land, he has also photographed the land he loves in ways that remind us why he loves it.

A major retrospective of his 46-year career, the first such exhibition since 1989, is on view at the Yale University Art Gallery through October 28. Titled “The Place We Live,” the show was curated by YUAG’s Joshua Chuang and Jock Reynolds. (The show has already visited the Vancouver Art Gallery, the Denver Art Museum and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art.) Virtually the entire show, images of and from Adams’s books and a detailed chronology are on YUAG’s superb exhibition website. The three-volume exhibition catalogue is particularly beautiful.

Adams has been oft-discussed on Modern Art Notes: I reviewed “The Place We Live” when it was at the Denver Art Museum, I compared the way Robert Adams and Carleton Watkins photographed trees and I wrote about Adams’s clear-cut-centric series “Turning Back” in the context of recent forestry science in a Modern Painters column.

Adams and I discuss:

  • His relationships with his father and grandfather and how he came to love the West;
  • The “gift pictures” that inspired or motivated many of his series including “Los Angeles Spring” and “From the Missouri West”;
  • Why being a walker and a hiker has been important to his way of making work;
  • His love of trees and how that comes through in his pictures;
  • The “anger” in his late “Turning Back” series; and
  • How he sees and photographs light and the difference between the light in Colorado and in Oregon, where he lives now.

How to listen: To download the program to your PC/mobile device, click here. Subscribe to The Modern Art Notes Podcast via iTunes or RSS. Stream the program at MANPodcast.com.

The Modern Art Notes Podcast is an independent production of Modern Art Notes Media. It is released under this Creative Commons license. For images of the works discussed on this week’s show, click through to the jump.

Unless otherwise noted, all photographs are in the collection of the Yale University Art Gallery, New Haven, Conn.

Members of the Hickman family on the South Dakota prairie, ca. 1900. Photograph by Robert Adams’s grandfather, Charles Hickman.

Robert Adams, Methodist church, Bowen, Colorado, from the series “The Plains,” 1965-73.

Robert Adams, Sunday school class, Colorado Springs, Colorado, from the series “The New West,” 1968-71.

Robert Adams, Burning oil sludge north of Denver, Colorado, from the series, “What We Bought,” 1970-74.

Robert Adams, Nehalem Spit, Tillamook County, Oregon, from the series “Sea Stories, This Day,” 1999-2009.

Robert Adams, Nehalem Spit, Tillamook County, Oregon, from the series “Sea Stories, This Day,” 1999-2009.

Robert Adams, Longmont, Colorado from the series “Summer Nights,” 1976-82.

Robert Adams, Longmont, Colorado, from the series “Summer Nights,” 1976-82.

Robert Adams, Baker County, Oregon, from the series “Pine Valley,” 2000-2003.

Robert Adams, Dead Plant, Barbed Wire and Razor Wire, Palos Verdes, California, 1983.

A selection of Timothy O’Sullivan pictures of canyons via the Library of Congress.

Robert Adams, Clear-cut and Burned, East of Arch Cape, Oregon, 1976. Collection of the Museum of Modern Art, New York.

Robert Adams, Clear-cut and Burned, East of Arch Cape, Oregon, 1976. Collection of the Museum of Modern Art, New York.

Robert Adams, Clatsop County, Oregon, from the series “Turning Back,” 1999-2003.

Robert Adams, Coos County, Oregon, from the series “Turning Back,” 1999-2003.

Robert Adams, Clatsop County, Oregon, from the series “Turning Back,” 1999-2003.

Robert Adams, Harney County, Oregon, from “Poplars,” 1999.

Dorothea Lange, J.R. Butler, President of the Southern Tenant Farmers’ Union, Memphis, Tennessee, 1938. Collection of the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art.

Dorothea Lange, Woman of the High Plains, “If You Die, You’re Dead–That’s All.” Texas Panhandle, 1938. Collection of the Amon Carter Museum of American Art, Fort Worth, Tex.

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  1. [...] the Modern Art Notes Podcast via iTunes or RSS and see images of all of the artworks discussed on this week’s program here. It is distributed each Thursday via MAN, iTunes, RSS feed and on MANPodcast.com.0 Comments [...]

  2. [...] program directly here. Subscribe via iTunes here. Subscribe to the RSS feed here. See images of artworks discussed on the show. « The Modern Art Notes Podcast: Robert Adams Blog Home [...]

  3. [...] of a second artist connected to its art consultant arm and The Modern Art Notes Podcast featured Robert Adams, the Klimt drawings survey at the Getty and Hammer “Made in L.A. 2012″ artist Roy [...]

  4. [...] Check out this interview with photographer Robert Adams: http://blogs.artinfo.com/modernartnotes/2012/08/the-modern-art-notes-podcast-robert-adams/ [...]

  5. [...] I want us to start thinking more critically about landscape.  To start things, I want you to listen to this podcast interview with Tyler Green and Robert Adams. [...]

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