Ansel Adams' Farm Land: Photography Essay

Pages: 5 (1378 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: 10  ·  File: .docx  ·  Level: College Senior  ·  Topic: Art  ·  Written: November 21, 2018

SAMPLE EXCERPT . . .
 As a leader of the Sierra Club, Adams strongly supported conservation and resigned from the Club when it compromised on a plan to urbanize Yosemite on Tioga Road. Just as he showed in “Farm workers and Mt. Williamson” in 1943, Adams was adamant that landscape be preserved in its pristine condition (Turnage).Buy full Download Microsoft Word File paper
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Preservation of Rural America in Ansel Adams' Photography

Essay on Ansel Adams' Farm Land: Photography Assignment

The preservation of rural America, however, was not something that could last—at least not in the idealized form that Adams captured and presented to the world. Whatever sentimental satisfaction one could get from vintage photographs of rural America, whether it was Hine’s photo of child beet farmers, or Adams’ photo of adult farmers worker at the foothills of a mountain, was gone by the time Eggleston arrived in Mississippi in 1980 to snap a photo of the way America had changed. His ironic “Untitled, Mississippi, 1980” shows a rusted out sign advertising Wonder Enriched Bread that “Builds Strong Bodies 8 Ways!” Behind the sign is a newly plowed wheat field that seems to stretch out forever and away back into the horizon. No human is depicted in the field, the implication being that humans are no longer needed for the work—the machines can take care of it all. As a result there is a disconnect between the land and the people: they don’t hoe the fields and gather in the crops themselves—but rather they wait for the corporation to produce the “Wonder Enriched Bread”—some sort of hybrid concoction of real ingredients and who-knows-what-else to deliver a product that is only partly organic, partly healthy. The dilapidated nature of the scene and the way the photo is composed shows that the sign is front and center—the rusted advertisement is the new focus—the new rural America. America stopped being a country and started being a business. This, perhaps, was the reality that French artist Henri Cartier-Bresson wanted to see more of—a world that was going to the dogs and becoming dehumanized. Eggleston delivered with his unsentimental photo of rural America without humans—just signs that they had been there once, until they were colonized by corporations producing strange new food items called Wonder Bread. In response to what he himself thought he was photographing, Eggleston’s answer was, “What I'm photographing, it is a hard question to answer. And the best I've come up with is 'life today'” (The Art Story). In this sense, Eggleston was a documentary photographer, like Hine, except he was not out to effect social reform—but rather to depict where we were, where we had been (which is intimated by the photo), and what we had lost or gained (lost connection to the land, gained Wonder Bread). A hint of sentimentality is also felt in Eggleston’s picture, which shows some influence of Adams, as well.

In conclusion, the thematic link between Hine, Adams and Eggleston is the land and people’s connection to it. It is America—the way in which we lived and live today. Their photos showed how people were in the past and how the world is today—people disconnected from the land and separated from the spiritual good that Adams felt was necessary for life to be lived to its fullest and most perfect. Hine’s push for social reform may have inadvertently triggered this separation, which Eggleston documents in Mississsippi.

Works Cited
  1. Adams, Ansel. “Farm workers and Mt. Williamson.” https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Ansel_Adams_-_Farm_workers_and_Mt._Williamson.jpg
  2. The Art Story. William Eggleston. https://www.theartstory.org/artist-eggleston-william.htm
  3. Eggleston, William. “Untitled, Mississippi, 1980.” http://www.egglestontrust.com/
  4. Hadden, Peggy. The Quotable Artist. Skyhourse Publishing, 2010.
  5. Hine, Lewis Wicke. Barbara Lieber, 9-year-old sugar beet worker, hoeing with her 11-year-old sister on a Wisconsin farm near St. John.” http://www.shorpy.com/node/4335?size=_original
  6. New York Public Library. About Lewis Wicke Hine. https://web.archive.org/web/20070308123219/http://www.nypl.org/research/chss/spe/art/photo/hinex/empire/biography.html
  7. Norton, Kenneth. Beyond the Light, 2011. http://zone-10.com/cmsm/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=144&Itemid=1
  8. Smith-Shank, Deborah L. "Lewis Hine and his photo stories: Visual culture and social reform." Art Education 56.2 (2003): 33-37.
  9. Spaulding, Jonathan. Ansel… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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