Featured Reviews, VOLUME 4

Featured: Three New Books by Robert Adams [Vol. 4, #25]

Close At Hand

A Review of
Three New Books
Of Photographs
By Robert Adams.

Review by Brent Aldrich.

Prairie.
Robert Adams.
Paperback – Reprint Edition: Yale UP, 2011.
Buy now: [ Amazon ]

Sea Stories.
Robert Adams.
Paperback: Yale UP, 2011.
Buy now: [ Amazon ]

This Day.
Robert Adams.
Paperback: Yale UP, 2011.
Buy now: [ Amazon ]

A trio of books of Robert Adams’s photographs brings together images spanning several decades of black and white impressions from the American West in Prairie, Sea Stories, and This Day. It might seem a huge subject and length of time, but Adams’s skill as a photographer is in bringing landscapes to a particularizing level on which their contours can be understood, their individual features worth caring for. It is in many ways the great work of place-making, of finding a home within distinct subtleties of weather and geography and history. These geographies ought to change the sensibilities and sympathies of our cultures located within them – over and against the mono-culture of, say, Interstate Highway Architecture – even as our cultures, in our images, our language, our neighborhoods, change the shape or imagine those same geographies.

Take Prairie to begin. Originally printed in 1978, this reprint travels through the Colorado prairie, fixing primarily on small human settlements as they meet the horizon, the sky, clouds, wind, and sunlight. In these wide open spaces, there is ample evidence both of how human use changes the landscape – as the sign above a barn door reads, AGRICULTURE – and also how the particular geography must change the culture. This wonderful working back and forth is the work of place-making and of culture: creating human-scaled communities responsive to the vast complexities of geography.

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