Robert Adams

Turning Back


January 14 - February 25, 2006
522 W 22 Street


Press Release

Matthew Marks is pleased to announce Robert Adams: Turning Back, the next exhibition at his gallery at 522 West 22nd Street.

Turning Back is a major new body of work, the scope of which is far greater than that of any survey the artist has previously undertaken. The photographs in this exhibition were inspired by the bicentennial of Lewis and Clark's journey across the Northwest Territory to the Pacific Ocean. To make these pictures, Adams has taken an abbreviated version of the trip, but in reverse, beginning on the West Coast, traveling across the Cascade Mountain Range, and moving into the plains of eastern Oregon.

Throughout his career, Adams has focused on particular cultural phenomena of our age, including the strip-mall culture he observed in Denver in the 1970s and the spill of suburban detritus in California in the 1980s. In this new series of over 160 photographs Adams has concentrated on the landscape of the Pacific Northwest, and what Adams finds is often dramatically different from what greeted explorers at the dawn of the 19th century: the immense and inspiring scale of the natural landscape traversed by Lewis and Clark has been almost completely reshaped. The artist writes, "Old-growth forests are those that have never been cut. All that remain of these woods in the Northwest are isolated fragments. Nearly every view that the average visitor encounters in Oregon and Washington, even if the view is green, has been cut at least once." This new body of work asks the viewer to evaluate what is left of the Northwest's natural heritage and to consider man's impact on the landscape of this region since it was first documented.

Robert Adams was born in 1937 and has been photographing the American cultural landscape for nearly forty years. Two exhibitions of photographs from the present series were held in 2005, one at the Haus der Kunst in Munich, the other at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. Following the exhibition at Matthew Marks Gallery, Turning Back will be exhibited at the Center for Creative Photography in Tucson.

Adams was awarded Guggenheim fellowships in 1973 and 1980 and a MacArthur Foundation fellowship in 1994. A complete collection of the artist's work was recently acquired by the Yale University Art Gallery.

More than fifteen books of Adams's photographs and writings have been published. The present exhibition will be accompanied by an eponymous monograph reproducing all the photographs in the series.

Robert Adams: Turning Back will be on view at the Matthew Marks Gallery, 522 West 22nd Street (between 10th and 11th Avenues) through February 25, 2006. Hours: Tuesday through Saturday, 11:00 to 6:00 pm.

For further information or reproductions please contact Sabrina Buell at 212-243-0200.