Robert Adams was born in New Jersey in 1937, and moved to Colorado as a teenager. Adams was a professor of English literature for several years before turning his full attention to photography in the mid 1970s. His work is largely concerned with moments of regional transition: the suburbanization of Denver, a changing Los Angeles of the 1970s and 1980s, and the clear-cutting in Oregon in the 1990s. His many books, well-known to those concerned with the American Landscape, include The New West, From the Missouri West, Summer Nights, Los Angeles Spring, To Make It Home, Listening to the River, West From the Columbia, What We Bought, Notes for Friends, California, Summer Nights, Walking, Gone?, What Can We Believe Where? and The Place We Live. Adams has also written a number of critical essays, including Beauty in Photography, Why People Photograph and most recently, Art Can Help. Among many awards, Adams has received the Guggenheim and MacArthur Foundation fellowships and in 2006, the Deutsche Börse Prize. In 2009, he was awarded the Hasselblad Foundation International Award in Photography, and in 2014 was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Letters.
Adams’s works are held by major museum collections worldwide. In the fall of 2010, Yale University Art Gallery organized an ambitious, touring exhibition highlighting four decades of work. The show began in Vancouver, British Columbia and traveled to the Denver Art Museum; the Los Angeles Museum of Art; Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofia in Madrid; the National Media Museum in the United Kingdom; and the Jeu de Paume, Paris. A retrospective is planned at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C. in 2021.