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Ansel Adams: A Documentary Film
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Timeline: Ansel Adams: A Documentary Film

1839 - 1919 | 1920 - 1938 | 1940 - 1985  


Congress passes a bill making Kings Canyon a national park.

Adams curates "A Pageant of Photography" for the Golden Gate Exposition. This overview of American photographic history features photographs of the Civil War, as well as photographs of the Old West made by 19th century photographers such as Carleton Watkins and Timothy O'Sullivan.

December 31: Beaumont Newhall curates the first photography exhibit at the Museum of Modern Art. Adams helps him plan the exhibit, and becomes a consultant to the museum.

Adams shoots his celebrated Surf Sequence on an outing with Beaumont and Nancy Newhall.


Adams gets an assignment from AT&T to photograph employees at their jobs.


George Waters at Kodak hires Adams along with Edward Weston, Paul Strand and Charles Sheeler to shoot advertising photos with Kodak film. Unfortunately, many of the color prints have faded due to the instability of the dyes in the Ektachrome film.


Albert BenderAnsel and Virginia Adams write Michael and Anne in Yosemite Valley.The children's book depicts their two young children. The text is written by Virginia, with Ansel contributing the photographs. The book is quite successful, despite Adams's complaints about the poor quality of the reproductions.

Adams makes his own version of Timothy O'Sullivan's 1873 photograph of the ancient ruins at Canyon de Chelly, Arizona.

March: Adams patron Albert Bender dies.

October: Adams curates the "Image of Freedom" exhibition at New York's Museum of Modern Art with Nancy Newhall.

October 31: Adams makes one of his best-known photographs, Moonrise, Hernandez, New Mexico.


Due to the outbreak of World War II, the Department of the Interior is forced to cancel its mural project.


ManzanarAdams visits Manzanar, an internment camp for Japanese Americans. Refusing government funding, he documents the plight of the internees at his own expense. While there he shoots Winter Sunrise, Sierra Nevada, from Lone Pine, California.

Nancy Newhall curates an exhibit of Adams's Manzanar photographs at the Museum of Modern Art.


Born Free and Equal, a book featuring Adams's Manzanar photographs, is published. Many criticize him for being disloyal.


February: Adams and Dorothea Lange collaborate to photograph the wartime shipyards in Richmond, California for Fortune.

Ted Spencer, president of the San Francisco Art Association, asks Adams to set up a department of photography at the California School of Fine Arts. Adams passes on his teaching position to Minor White, because it takes up too much of his time.


Adams is awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship.


Adams goes to Alaska to work on his Guggenheim project and on an assignment for Kodak. While there, he makes photographs of Denali National Park.


Adams's Guggenheim Fellowship is renewed.

Beaumont Newhall is appointed as the first curator of the George Eastman House in Rochester, New York. He establishes the International Museum of Photography there.


Adams publishes two books that teach about photography: The Camera and the Lens and The Negative.


Adams's My Camera in Yosemite Valley is published.


Adams and Dorothea Lange work together on assignments -- one on the Mormons of Utah for Life, and one for Fortune on agriculture in the San Joaquin Valley.


Nipomo DunesMy Camera in the National Parks and National Parks and Monuments are published. Adams has made the photographs for these books with support from his Guggenheim fellowships for photographing the national parks.

Adams goes to Hawaii on an assignment for Kodak.

Adams's The Print is published.


Ansel AdamsNatural Light Photography, another of Adams's teaching books, is published.

June and July: Adams and Nancy Newhall collaborate on a series of articles for Arizona Highways, a magazine that showcases photographs of nature.

Adams co-founds Aperture, a journal of creative photography, with the Newhalls, Minor White, and others. Virginia and Ansel Adams start a company called Five Associates with three friends. The company produces high-quality photographic postcards and notecards, which are sold at Best's Studio.


Adams and Nancy Newhall collaborate on Death Valley.


California Academy of ScienceNancy Newhall and Adams curate an exhibit called "This Is the American Earth," which is held at the LeConte Memorial Lodge in Yosemite before traveling throughout the United States. Among its venues are the Smithsonian, New York's Museum of Modern Art, and the California Academy of Science.

Adams begins teaching photography workshops at Yosemite.


Another Adams teaching book, Artificial Light Photography, is published.


Adams tries to resign from the Sierra Club during the battle to widen the Tioga Road near Tenaya Lake. In the end, he loses his battle -- and he believes the region is done irreparable harm. His resignation is not accepted. He has a rubber stamp made that says, "Remember Tenaya!!!"


Adams and the Sierra Club fight to get Pacific Gas & Electric to move the site of their nuclear power plant from Nipomo Dunes to Diablo Canyon. The site is moved, but deep rifts in political strategies are created within the Sierra Club.


Adams sells his San Francisco house and moves to Carmel, California.


Eleoquent LightNancy Newhall curates "The Eloquent Light," a retrospective of Adams's work held at the de Young Museum in San Francisco.


Adams meets with President Lyndon B. Johnson to discuss environmental issues.

At President Johnson's request, Adams and Nancy Newhall produce a book called A More Beautiful America, which uses Adams's photographs and text from Johnson's speeches.


Cole Weston leases art gallery space to Adams, who starts an organization called Friends of Photography in Carmel.


Secretary of the Interior Stewart Udall awards Adams the Conservation Service Award, the Interior Department's highest civilian honor.


Adams is elected director of the Sierra Club.


Adams resigns as director of the Sierra Club.

Adams becomes more involved with the Wilderness Society because of their focus on wilderness issues and because of his friendship with William Turnage, who is serving as executive director.


The San Francisco Museum of Modern Art holds an exhibit called "Ansel Adams: Recollected Moments."


The Victoria and Albert Museum in London hosts an exhibit of Adams's work.

Spring: David McAlpin organizes an exhibit at the Museum of Modern Art to display Adams's lesser-known work in portraiture. The exhibit's catalogue is called Singular Images.

July 7: Nancy Newhall dies.


Clearing Winter StormJanuary 28: President Gerald Ford requests a print of Clearing Winter Storm after seeing it in "Images: 1923-1974." Adams presents him with the print, as well as his outline of a "New Initiative for the National Parks." Adams says to President Ford, "Mr. President, every time you lean back in your chair, that picture is going to remind you of your responsibility to do something for the national parks."


Taos PuebloAdams's Taos Pueblo is reprinted.

Adams's Photographs of the Southwest is published.


James Alinder becomes executive director of Friends of Photography.

John Szarkowski curates "Ansel Adams and the West" at the Museum of Modern Art in New York.

Adams's Yosemite and the Range of Light is published.


The Friends of Photography mount an exhibition called "Ansel Adams: 50 Years of Portraits."


Adams is invited to make official photographs of President Jimmy Carter and Vice-President Walter Mondale for the National Portrait Gallery. This marks the first time photographs are used instead of paintings.

September 3: Adams appears on the cover of Time magazine.


Ansel AdamsJune 9: President Carter presents Adams with the Presidential Medal of Freedom.


A mural-sized print of Moonrise, Hernandez, New Mexico sells for $71,500, the highest price ever paid for a print.

Adams is awarded the Hasselblad Medal of Honor at the Museum of Modern Art in New York by the King and Queen of Sweden.


February 19: A celebration marking Adams's 80th birthday is put on by the Alinders at the Monterey Peninsula Museum of Art. Pianist Vladimir Ashkenazi performs at the party.

An exhibition called "The Unknown Ansel Adams" is curated by Jim Alinder for the Friends of Photography in Carmel.

Adams's Yosemite workshops are transferred to Carmel to be run by the Friends of Photography.


An exhibition of Adams's work is held in Shanghai. It is the first American exhibit to be invited to the National Museum of Beijing since the Communist takeover.

May: An Adams interview in Playboy magazine comes out. Adams is outspoken in his opposition to President Ronald Reagan.

June 30: Adams is invited to meet with President Reagan. He views it as an opportunity to express his views on conservation.


April 22: Ansel Adams dies at the age of 82.

Congress passes legislation designating more than 200,000 acres of land near Yosemite as the Ansel Adams Wilderness Area.


April 22: An 11,760-foot mountain on the boundary of Yosemite National Park is named Mt. Ansel Adams.

1839 - 1919 | 1920 - 1938 | 1940 - 1985

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