The best Art is Art that makes the most people feel something. When we look at a masterpiece by da Vinci or listen to a fugue by Bach, there is an emotional reaction within us. We feel happy, sad, delighted, or angry. Or, we experience something called the Sublime. The Sublime makes us feel afraid, possibly even terrified, but, most of all, sheer awe. We experience the Sublime when we stand on a mountaintop and look at the expanse below, or when we look up and see the millions of stars studding the sky. It is an exhilaration, a quickening of the heartbeat, a feeling of being truly, unequivocally alive. Artists since the late 18th century have tried to capture the Sublime to varying degrees of success, but perhaps none has done so better than Ansel Adams (American, 1902 – 1984).
Calling Ansel Adams a photographer is like calling Michelangelo a painter: it misses the point. Adams was a visionary of the American West. He crafted images of the National Parks that excite the senses and stir the heart. His work, like Michelangelo’s, is immortal, and has lived on unabated since his passing.
Life & Art
Ansel Adams was born in San Francisco in 1902. It was there that he first encountered Nature, but his love of the Natural World, and his vision as an artist, was truly excited by his first visit to Yosemite in 1916. Yosemite would become Adams’ muse, with the dramatic expanse of Half Dome taking center stage of many of his photographs.
“Half Dome, Merced River, Winter”
Nest Egg Auctions has had the opportunity to sell an original photograph of Yosemite by Ansel Adams, entitled Half Dome, Merced River, Winter. Originally taken in 1938, this photographic print was produced in the 1970s. The pines stand along the Merced’s edge, dressed in a coating of thick white snow. Beyond the treetops, the monolithic Half Dome rises like a monument above the park. The clear sky with fluffy clouds spreads overhead. The landscape is untouched by mankind, with no sign of habitation, not even a footprint in the snow. Nature itself is on display here.
Half Dome, Merced River, Winter is a true masterpiece of Adams’ work, showing his commitment to Nature in no uncertain terms. Adams was an environmentalist and conservationist, a lifelong member of the Sierra Club. He fought for the National Parks his entire life. His photographs served to demonstrate his philosophy and, quite literally, his viewpoint. Every viewer, by gazing into one of Adams’ pictures, shares in his experience of Yosemite. We feel something within us, a power that no human creation can ever match. The true grandeur is not Adams’ photograph, but, rather, his subject. Yosemite speaks for itself, with Adams’ help and framing.