Robert Adams: From The Missouri West

Black and white photograph of a tree-covered hillside overlooking a town on the flat plain below

Adams, a Ph.D in English Literature, taught at a college level for eight years before taking up photography seriously in 1967. Made with a large format camera, his pictures document as objectively as possible the look of the American West and its continuing sprawl of man-made structures. While Adams strives for neutrality, his photographs reflect a deep faith in the strength and performance of the land.

Missouri River. Clay County, South Dakota, 1977
gelatin silver print, 11 x 14 inches (sheet) [27.9 x 35.6 cm]

His three books (The New West, 1974; Denver, 1977; and Prairie, 1978) will be followed this year by the Aperture monograph From the Missouri West. This series of landscapes, begun in 1975, includes images made from the Missouri River westward to the Pacific. Of these pictures, Adams has written, “What I wanted, if possible, was to rediscover some of the landforms that had impressed our forebears…I set out making one precautionary requirement of myself in order to try not to lie – I determined always to include some evidence of man.”

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