Photo Mail online magazine
brings out special news about
Photography and allied art forms
National/International Photography
Exhibitions, Technique, Product updates
Opportunities
as well as featured reports and
Events

Together
Let us
Discuss, Debate, Define
The Art of Photography

Ansel Adams, The Grand Tetons and the Snake River, Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming
The Grand Tetons and the Snake River, Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming © Ansel Adams

$12 in 1948, $1000000 in 2020

Ansel Adam’s print sold by Sotheby for record price

2020 has been a year of standstill, resistance, and change. Much of the unacknowledged unfairness has become highly pronounced – the frictions compelling political powers to act and respond. The world of art has also gone through immense changes. Many museums and cultural organizations have kept their doors shut throughout the year. While the direct-artist-to-collector sales have seen a record increase, a majority of the galleries have faced a hard time. Some were forced to dissolve, a few others merged or had to drop cream collections and the rest grappled with the unchartered online world. This is especially so in countries like India since online markets demand a certain degree of openness and transparency, and art trade here has so far been evasive of fair regulations. Even then, there has been a good share of sales, including that of photographs.

For those who have been following the emerging market trends, the year 2020 hasn’t been a disappointing one. Sotheby has made record sales of Ansel Adams prints giving a rather ceremonious end to the challenging year. ‘A Grand Vision: The David H. Arrington Collection of Ansel Adams Masterworks’ comprised 123 prints by Ansel Adams, and the complete set was put up for auction this December 14. Interestingly, 94 percent of the collection was successfully sold to buyers both in person at Sotheby’s New York and online. A mural-sized print, ‘The Grand Tetons and the Snake River, Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming’, was sold for a record-high for an Ansel Adams print, closing at $988,000.

Ansel Adams photographed the record-setting print in 1942. The image was commissioned by the Department of the Interior. The mural-sized print of Jackson Hole is one of the fewer than 10 that are thought to exist. David H. Arrington acquired it directly from a descendant of Ansel Adams. David H. Arrington was born and raised in Dallas, Texas, and currently serves as the President of Arrington Oil & Gas Operating LLC. He became interested in photography as a teenager and began collecting Adams’ work in his twenties. His collection ultimately developed into one of the largest and most comprehensive private collections of Adams’ photography. Pieces from the collection have been part of many exhibits over the years, including in the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, The Art Institute of Chicago, the Hayward Gallery, the Kunstbibliothek in Berlin, and the Museum of Modern Art.

American photographer Ansel Adams (1902 – 1984) was the most important landscape photographer of the 20th century. He is also perhaps the most widely known and beloved photographer in the history of the United States; the popularity of his work has only increased since his death. While photography and piano shared his attention during early adulthood, at the beginning of 1930’s Adams decided to devote his life to photography. By 1935 Adams was famous in the photographic community, largely on the strength of a series of articles written for the popular photography press, especially Camera Craft. The importance of Adams’s work was recognized in 1936 by Alfred Stieglitz, who awarded him the first one-artist show in his gallery, An American Place. However, many of Adams’s contemporaries thought that photographers—and even painters—should be making pictures that relate more directly to the huge economic and political issues of the day. This argument sounds familiar in the Indian context. Even today our celebrated masters like Raghu Rai publicly condemn experimental and conceptual photographic works as nonsense[1]. Ansel Adams increasingly used his prominent position in the field to increase the public acceptance of photography as fine art. In 1940 he helped found the first curatorial department devoted to photography as an art form at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City. In 1946 he established at the California School of Fine Arts (now the San Francisco Art Institute) the first academic department to teach photography as a profession. He also revived the idea of the original (chemical) photographic print as an artifact, something that might be sold as an art object.

His Portfolio I of 1948 offered 12 original prints of extraordinary quality for $100. Eventually, Adams produced seven such portfolios, the last in 1976. Fast forward to 2020. Ansel Adam’s life-long efforts did pay off. The total sales by Sotheby crossed 6.4 million USD. ‘The Grand Tetons and the Snake River’ was sold for the highest price. The picture was taken from an elevated point of view and it depicts the Snake River in a mountainous valley.

There is an interesting anecdote – the dramatically-lit black-and-white photograph is one of the images chosen by NASA and Carl Sagan to be carried on the Voyager 1 and 2 spacecrafts in 1977. NASA has placed an ambitious message aboard Voyager 1 and 2, a kind of time capsule, intended to communicate a story of our world to extraterrestrials. The Voyager message is carried by a phonograph record, a 12-inch gold-plated copper disk containing sounds and images selected to portray the diversity of life and culture on Earth. The contents of the record were selected for NASA by a committee chaired by Carl Sagan of Cornell University, et. al. Dr. Sagan and his associates assembled 115 images and a variety of natural sounds, such as those made by surf, wind, and thunder, birds, whales, and other animals. To this, they added musical selections from different cultures and eras, and spoken greetings from Earth-people in fifty-five languages, and printed messages from President Carter and U.N. Secretary-General Waldheim.

Well, Ansel Adam’s photo captured the landscape so well that it would be ideal for showing extraterrestrial life what Earth’s environment was like. It will be 40,000 years before they make a close approach to any other planetary system. And, the spacecraft will be encountered and the record played only if there are advanced space-faring civilizations in interstellar space. But, a little hope for that chance encounter is not too much to ask for…

_______

[1] Raghu Rai in conversation with Sebastia Salgado, Inaugural Speech of Indian Photography Festival – Hyderbad, 2020

By Tulsi Swarna Lakshmi | Published on December 23, 2020

Share

Home » News » $12 in 1948, $1000000 in 2020, Ansel Adam’s print sold by Sotheby for record price

Related News

Looking or shooting? A pe(e)p toy by Ray-ban and Facebook to click as you see

By |September 15th, 2021|

Ray-ban Stories sunglasses are built in partnership with Facebook and Ray-Ban’s parent company EssilorLuxottica and are the first product to be produced as a result of a multi-year partnership between the two companies. Ray-Ban Stories will be available in 20 different combinations in classic Ray-Ban styles — Wayfarer, Wayfarer Large, Round, and Meteor — and five colors with a range of lenses including clear, sun, transition, and prescription. Ray-Ban Stories features dual integrated 5-megapixel cameras that are designed to let the wearer capture everyday moments as they happen from a first-person perspective. The dual 5MP camera gives new depth and dimension to the content. It takes high-resolution photos (2592×1944 pixels) and quality video (1184×1184 pixels at 30 frames per second). Camera automatically adjusts to the light around for high-quality captures. One can also attend to calls, listen to music via blue tooth while on the go.

A pause amid the rush | Digital Online Show of Project 365 Tiruvannamalai

By |August 19th, 2021|

The premiere show of Project 365 Tiruvannamalai was shown at the famous Victoria Memorial Hall, Kolkata, in 2019. Now, a small selection from this whopping collection has now travelled across the continent and is being exhibited at the Magnet Galleries, Melbourne, Australia. Titled, Elements and Fragments, the show was opened to publich on 15th July 2021, however, due to the pandemic third wave lockdown measures, the gallery had to remain shut. In a remarkable effort, the Magnet Galleries have transformed the show into a fully digital 360° format. On World Photography Day, the digital show was unveiled to the public.

Underwater Photography: No Under Estimating It | Susannah Snowden-Smith

By |August 14th, 2021|

On a bright Sunday morning, PhotoMail caught up with the chief documentary photographer on the Godavaya excavation, Susannah Snowden-Smith. What followed was an interesting revelation of the nuances of underwater photography. Living her dream of underwater photography, which she had started thinking about when she was 11 years old, Susannah reached out to a renowned archeologist as early as in her tenth grade. And in a matter of few years, she was on her first 120 feet underwater excavation assignment close to Sedana island Sadana Island in Red Sea, documenting an eighteenth-century ship wreck.

IFA Call for Proposal: Arts Research 2021 – 2022

By |August 10th, 2021|

IFA invites proposals for our Arts Research programme from researchers and practitioners who are interested in undertaking research projects, implemented by IFA. These projects could investigate marginalised or relatively unexplored areas; intend to create spaces for dialogue between theory and practice; offer new readings of artistic practices; and use interdisciplinary approaches to break new conceptual ground, among other things. The programme is open to proposals from individual scholars, researchers, and practitioners, across disciplines. You are eligible to apply if you are an Indian national. 

Millions of Images from Tokyo to your screens in 3 minutes: Olympics 2020

By |August 3rd, 2021|

Amidst all odds and several controversies, Olympics 2020 is going on, without many audiences to cheer and veer the players. The only solace is that millions from across the world are watching it live. The number of online viewers has become more than doubled, with many countries still in lockdown, with the threat of pandemic third-wave closing in fast.

Photographing the Irulas: Young photographer Subeesh Yuva

By |July 31st, 2021|

Subeesh Yuva is an upcoming photographer based in Kozhikode. He enjoys traveling and is a passionate portrait and street photographer. Earlier, he had worked as a designer and an editor. His recent exhibition, CAMERA KOKEL SEARING FLAMES, was showcased at the Lalitha Kala Academy, Calicut, between 24th and 31st March 2020. The show featured his photographs of the Irula community in Attapady. Here is an exclusive interview with Subeesh.

A dream camera for Self-Filming Vloggers: Sony’s ZV-E10

By |July 31st, 2021|

A year after introducing its first camera for vloggers (the fixed-lens ZV-1), Sony has announced the ZV-E10, an interchangeable lens APS-C camera. With a larger sensor and the ability to swap lenses, Sony believes this camera steps up what the ZV-1 started. The Sony ZV-E10 will be available in either black or white and be priced at around Rs. 52000/- for the body only. There is a kit option available that comes with the Sony 16-50mm f/3.5-5.6 OSS lens that will cost app. Rs. 59000/-. However, vloggers in India have to wait, for there is still no news about the International availability of this new camera.

2021-06-06T18:39:03+05:30
Go to Top