The Place We Live, A Retrospective Selection of Photographs
The exhibition will feature more than 200 black-and-white photos spanning Adams’s 45-year career, showcasing the artistic legacy of the American photographer and his longstanding engagement with the contemporary Western landscape. Adams lived and worked in Colorado for nearly 30 years. Many of his most acclaimed images were taken in the Rocky Mountain region and will strike a familiar chord with visitors. The exhibition, organized by the Yale University Art Gallery,
will be on view September 25, 2011–January 2, 2012 in the museum’s Gallagher Family
“We’re excited to host the work of one of the foremost photographers of our time,” said Eric
Paddock, the DAM’s curator of photography. “Robert Adams’s striking yet quiet photos
provoke thought about current economic, political and environmental issues Westerners
confront every day. We think visitors will see something very familiar in his work.”
Since becoming a photographer in the mid-1960s, Adams has been widely regarded as one
of the most significant and influential chroniclers of the American West. Adams’s photographs
and writing insist that the realities of everyday landscapes are as beautiful as idealized scenes
from nature. They ask questions about the ways people change and interact with nature, and
what it means to live simply and quietly in today’s world. This commitment earned Adams
prominence in photography’s “New Topographics” movement of the late 20th century and lends authority to his ongoing work. His photographs of Colorado suburban growth and clear cut forests in the Pacific Northwest, for example, express shock at mainstream social and economic values.
“The Denver Art Museum is pleased to be the first U.S. venue for The Place We Live, showcasing our continued commitment to our photography program,” said Christoph Heinrich, Frederick and Jan Mayer Director of the DAM. “Colorado has a rich photography history and we’re excited to have visitors engage with these artworks that provide a narrative to the American experience and take a fresh look at their surroundings.”
Robert Adams, Kerstin, Next to an Old-Growth Stump, Coos County, Oregon, 1999–2003. Gelatin silver print. Yale University Art Gallery, Purchased with a gift from Saundra B. Lane, a grant from the Trellis Fund, and the Janet and Simeon Braguin Fund.
Featuring more than 200 gelatin silver prints, The Place We Live weaves together four decades of
Adam’s work into a cohesive, epic narrative of American experience in the late 20th and early 21st
centuries. Each of the photographer’s major projects is represented, from early pictures of quiet buildings and monuments erected by prior settlers of his native Colorado to his most recent images of forests and migratory birds in the Pacific Northwest.
Born in Orange, N.J., in 1937, Robert Adams moved with his family from Madison, Wis., to Denver, Colo., at the age of 15. He earned a doctorate degree from the University of Southern California and, intent on pursuing an academic career, returned to Colorado in 1962 as an assistant professor of English at Colorado College. Disturbed by the rapid transformation of the
Colorado Springs and Denver areas, Adams began photographing a landscape transformed by tract housing, highways, strip malls and gas stations. “The pictures record what we purchased, what we paid and what we could not buy,” Adams wrote. “They document a separation from ourselves, and in turn from the natural world that we professed to love.” Since 1997, he has lived and worked in Oregon.