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Robert Adams

What We Bought: The New World, and California


October 28 - December 2, 2000
522 W 22 Street


Press Release

Matthew Marks is pleased to announce an exhibition of photographs by Robert Adams at 522 West 22nd Street. This is the first large-scale exhibition of Robert Adams' work to be held in New York and consists of two major series of black and white photographs.

What We Bought: The New World is comprised of 193 images documenting the development of the land surrounding Denver in the early 1970s. At the time, the greater Denver area was one of the fastest growing suburban sprawls in America and Adams recorded the destruction and over-development of the landscape with unflinching precision. In 1995 Adams wrote about these images: "The pictures record what we purchased, what we paid, and what we could not buy." This series was first exhibited at the Sprengel Museum in Hannover, Germany in 1995.

California is a series of 57 images of the Los Angeles Basin made in 1978-1983. Adams' views of the Southern California landscape focus on the frontier between the human and natural worlds. In these photographs, valleys and hills are crisscrossed by freeways, road cuts and telephone wires. In others, bewildered-looking trees, alone or in odd combinations of species, are silhouetted against the Los Angeles skyline far in the distance. While often bleak, the photographs still manage to convey an odd optimism about the endurance of nature. As Adams wrote earlier in his career, "The job of the photographer is not to record indisputable fact but to try to be coherent about intuition and hope."

Robert Adams was born in 1937 and has been photographing the American landscape for more than thirty years. In 1989 the Philadelphia Museum of Art organized a retrospective exhibition and in 1997 his work was included in Documenta X. He was awarded a MacArthur Foundation fellowship in 1994 and Guggenheim fellowships in 1973 and 1980. More than fifteen books of Adams' photographs and writings have been published. California, Views by Robert Adams of the Los Angeles Basin 1978-1983, a monograph reproducing all 57 photographs in the series, has been published to accompany this exhibition.

Robert Adams, California: Views of the Los Angeles Basin 1978-1983 and What We Bought: The New World, Scenes from the Denver Metropolitan Area 1970-1974 will be on view at the Matthew Marks Gallery, 522 West 22nd Street (between 10th and 11th Avenues) through December 2, 2000. Hours: Tuesday through Saturday, 11:00 AM to 6:00 PM.

For further information or reproductions please contact Jeffrey Peabody at 212-243-0200.

Artist Page
Robert Adams
Additional Information
Announcement