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Ansel Adams: Celebration of Genius / Clyde Butcher, Photographer

May 1-July 5, 2004


Ansel Adams and Clyde Butcher, two great landscape photographers who capture the wonder and vulnerability of nature, will have a special collection of their works on view from May 1-July 5, 2004.


Ansel Adams

Ansel Adams (1902-1984), is among the few photographers in all the history of photography whose name and work enjoys world-wide recognition. His stunning landscapes and intimate still lifes of nature continue to enthrall viewers. Many come to know his work through widely published books, postcards, posters and calendars. Relatively few have actually seen his lushly-printed images in the original. To do so is to see the genius in both his craft of printing and his artful composition. Adams is a master. Ansel Adams: A Celebration of Genius honors the man and celebrates that genius. (right: Ansel Adams, The Teton Range, Snake River, Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming, 1942 gelatin silver print, Copyright 2003 by the Trustees of the Ansel Adams Publishing Rights Trust. Courtesy George Eastman House. This exhibition honors Ansel Adams and celebrates his genius.  Ansel Adams: Celebration of Genius presents work from the 1920's through the 1960's, including a 1927 portfolio of rare Parmelian prints (gelatin silver emulsion on parchment paper).

Adams was born into a wealthy family that lived in San Francisco and first trained to become a concert pianist. His interest in photography began during a trip to Yosemite National Park in 1916. His earliest photographs were in the soft-focus style popular at that time. After contact with American photographer Paul Strand and others in 1930, his work began to develop the sharp focus that became his trademark. It was at that point he abandoned his musical career in favor of a career in photography. He moved to Yosemite in 1937 and later to Carmel, California. He helped found the photography department of the Museum of Modern Art in New York City in 1940, the first such department in any museum.

Adams is best known for his black and white landscape photographs of Yosemite National Park, the California coast, and other wilderness areas of the American West. He served as an official photographer of the Sierra Club. Adam's painstaking control of tonality and detail made him unequalled as a technical master of the black and white print. His photographs convey both the vast scale and the intimate detail of a landscape from which he photographed.

In 1984 the United States Congress established the Ansel Adams Wilderness Area, between Yosemite National Park and John Muir Wilderness area in California. Mount Ansel Adams, at the head of the Lyell Fork of the Merced River on the Southeast boundary of Yosemite National park, was named for him in 1985. The Ansel Adams center opened in 1989 to exhibit and promote Adams' work along with that of other photographers.

In 2002, Ansel Adams would have celebrated his 100th birthday. This occasion inspired the George Eastman House to take another look at their rich collection of 270 Adam's images to examine more closely the development of Adams' career.

The exhibition will present work from the early 1920's through the 1960's. In particular, a 1927 portfolio of rare Parmelian prints (gelatin silver emulsion on parchment paper), is included. Adams' most beloved images of the American West, such as Moonrise Hernandez, New Mexico, 1941 or Mount Williamson from Manzanar, California, ca. 1944, as well as portraits, still lifes, and abstracts are sure to thrill viewers. Celebration of Genius will mark only the third time an exhibition of Ansel Adams' work will tour from the George Eastman House.

Ansel Adams: Celebration of Genius is organized by George Eastman House International Museum of Photography and Film.


Clyde Butcher


"Wilderness, to me, is a spiritual necessity. When my son was killed by a drunk driver it was to the wilderness that I fled in hopes of regaining my serenity and equilibrium. The mysterious spiritual experience of being close to nature helped restore my soul. It was during that time, I discovered the intimate beauty of the environment. My experience reinforced my sense of dedication to use my art form of photography as an inspiration for others to work together to save nature's places of spiritual sanctuary for future generations."
Clyde Butcher


Clyde Butcher is a graduate in architecture from the University of California Polytechnic at San Luis Obispo. His interests in spatial relationships, and presentation of architectural designs led him into the field of photography. Clyde had been photographing architectural models for several years when he visited Ansel Adams' gallery in Yosemite. The beauty of Ansel Adams was a major influence in his early photographic experiences. It is from these early formal interests that he became attracted to the landscape. (right: Clyde Butcher, Moonrise, 1986, fiber, gelatin silver, selenium-toned, photograph. Clyde Butcher's black and white photographs explore his personal relationship with the environment.  The exquisite beauty and depth of his work draw the viewer into a relationship with nature.)

Butcher's award winning black and white photographs explore his personal relationship with the environment. For more than thirty-five years he has been preserving, on film, the untouched areas of landscape. His images are created using an 8"x10", 11"x14" or 12"x20" view camera. The large format camera allows him to express on film, the elaborate detail and textures that distinguish the landscape. The images range in size from 11"x14" to 5'x7'. They are printed on fiber base paper, and selenium toned for archival preservation.

In 1986 Clyde's son, Ted, was killed when a drunk driver hit the car in which he was a passenger. Ted was 17-years-old. Life is full of the unexpected, but the death of a child rips your soul apart. Clyde turned his grief into artistic expression. He escaped into the swamps of Florida for days at a time, lost in the spiritual sanctuary of nature. It was the spiritual connection with nature and God that helped him heal, and also began the miraculous change in the direction of his life.

Recent projects include work for the State's "Save Our Rivers" program, the South Florida Water Management District, the D.E.P.; Division of State Lands, the Bureau of Submerged Lands and Preserves, Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary; The Audubon Society, Everglades National Park, The Nature Conservancy, Rocky Mountain National park, and The Wilderness Society.

Clyde's photography is often found in museum exhibits throughout Florida. He has recently been honored by the state of Florida with the highest award the state can give a private citizen: the 1998 Artist Hall of Fame Award. He was also chosen as "Person of the Week" on the ABC Peter Jennings evening news program, and has received the Heartland Community Service Award for his work educating Floridian's about the beauty of their state.

A collection of his work can be seen in his books: Clyde Butcher: Portfolio I, Florida Landscapes; Clyde Butcher -- 1995 Limited Edition Collection; Visions for the Next Millennium; Clyde Butcher -- Nature's Places of Spiritual Sanctuary;Clyde Butcher -- Florida Landscapes, and in his biography, Seeing the Light: Wilderness and Salvation, a Photographer's Tale.

Public Broadcasting has completed an award-winning hour documentary on Clyde, Visions of Florida. A Second video, Big Cypress Preserve: Jewel of the Everglades, featuring Clyde, is also an award-winning program.

Clyde's photography has been exhibited in many areas of the United States as well as in major museums of Florida. Traveling exhibits of Clyde's work are available at the Brevard Museum of Art and Science in Melbourne Florida, and the Museum of History in Tallahassee Florida. His latest traveling exhibit, Visions of the New Millennium will begin a tour of Europe in the year 2001 at the National Gallery in Prague in the Czech Republic, and travel throughout the United States from 2003-2005.

A large selection of Clyde's photography can be seen at his Venice Gallery & Studio in Venice, Florida, and at his Big Cypress Gallery, which is located on thirteen acres in the center of the Everglades, mid-way between Naples and Miami on the Tamiami Trail (Hwy. 41), in the Big Cypress National Preserve. The gallery is surrounded by more than a million acres of National Park wetlands and cypress strands of wild Florida.

Related Event: Clyde Butcher Photography Seminar, Saturday, May 8, 2004, 12:30-5:00pm, The Norma and William Horvitz Auditorium, Museum of Art.

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Copyright 2003, 2004 Traditional Fine Arts Organization, Inc., an Arizona nonprofit corporation. All rights reserved.