17 August 2011

Ansel Adams: Georgia O'Keeffe and Orville Cox

Ansel Adams - Georgia O'Keeffe and Orville Cox
Susan Brannon
17 August 2011
Georgia O'Keeffe and Orville Cox- Canyon de Chelly National Monument, 1937 It was unusual in Adam's photography to include human beings in his images.  When he did portraits, I feel that they were exquisite as reflected in this image of Georgia O'Keefe and Orville Cox.  I must say that I really like this image, and it is one of my favorites.  I adore the expression on Georgia O'Keeffe's face! The sky and clouds are high above their heads, their expressions are detailed and the lighting spectacular. 
 The story behind the image:
Orville Cox was the wrangler at Ghost Range and the guide on a several week trip taken by O'Keefe, Adams and others.  One interesting point of the photo is that it was taken with a 35 mm camera.

In September, 1937, David Hunter McAlpin organized a month-long camping trip throughout the Southwest with his friends Georgia O'Keeffe and photographer Ansel Adams. The result of this camping trip, a unique and rare set of photographic proofs made by Adams and later given to his friend McAlpin.

The group included McAlpin's cousins, Godfrey and Helen Rockefeller, and Ghost Ranch head wrangler Orville Cox, who would be an interpreter and guide. Adams brought three cameras, two view cameras and a 35mm Contax. O'Keeffe filled a station wagon with painting supplies. The group was delayed for two weeks in Abiquiu, at the Ghost Ranch while O'Keeffe finished some work. Then they hit the road.

"Everyone knows the classic Adams photos of highly shadowed desert landscapes. O'Keeffe's fascination with the light, landforms, and artifacts of the Southwest is also noted," says Curator of the Exhibition Stephen Jareckie. "These proofs show that landscape - stark, isolated, magnificent - just as these two artists saw it. For us to see these pictures, the majority of which have never been exhibited before, is to glimpse a place that was crucial and inspirational to two major American artists."

"What's important about these photographs is both documentary and artistic. These are real Adams pictures. Though they're casual, and were clearly done on the spot, they still retain Adams's customary pictorial structure," says Jareckie. "But these aren't just landscape pictures. There are also numerous snapshots of the camping group, which include revealing portraits of Georgia O'Keeffe that have not been published."  

After the death of Sarah Sage McAlpin in 2001 her heirs discovered a box containing nearly 300 small-format prints of photographs by Ansel Adams taken on this trip. Some of the images were probably as close as Adams came to taking "snapshots," but those displayed here are carefully prepared "proofs." In a number of cases Adams went on to make larger-format photographs of the same or slightly-altered views. The Ansel Adams Foundation has contact-sheets and negatives for many, if not all of these images, but in most cases these smaller images appear to be the only prints of these photos ever made by Adams himself.


crossing borders said...

Thanks for the positive feedback! With the travels and holidays taking up my time, I will try to keep things up, I enjoy it.

ReneeLeJacques said...

Just saw this portrait at the exhibit in Indianapolis and loved it, especially the impish (coy?) grin on O'Keefe's face. Thank you for the background info.