Portrait of the Artist as a Human Being: In a Film Airing on PBS in April, Ric Burns Explores the "Quietly Extraordinary" Life of Ansel Adams

By Mcmanus, Reed | Sierra, March-April 2002 | Go to article overview

Portrait of the Artist as a Human Being: In a Film Airing on PBS in April, Ric Burns Explores the "Quietly Extraordinary" Life of Ansel Adams


Mcmanus, Reed, Sierra


Truth be told, nothing really dramatic happened in Ansel Adams's life. And the vaunted Sierra Club leader wasn't all that fiery an activist, either. Even so, filmmaker Ric Burns finds plenty of evidence that the renowned landscape photographer was "heroic" and an "exemplary American."

Burns, writer and director of Ansel Adams, a documentary coproduced with Sierra Club Productions that airs April 21 on PBS, discovered much more than spectacular photographs when he delved into Adams's world. "Ansel believed in beauty," Burns says; the photographer's ceaseless drive to communicate that simple conviction made his life "the most poignant and dramatic in the world." Burns's film explores the meaning of Adams's work through the themes that absorbed him: the fragility of the land, the bond between humans and nature, and the moral obligation we have to future generations.

Ansel Adams's genius was fashioned in an extraordinary time. The American frontier had officially "closed" just a dozen years before his birth in San Francisco in 1902. By then, a growing number of Americans considered the culture of conquest no longer relevant; nature could be revered, not merely dominated. The first of many childhood trips to Yosemite Valley transformed Adams "like Paul on the road to Damascus, Burns says, and his parents serendipitous gift of a Kodak Box Brownie camera gave him the means to record and express his inner experiences of nature.

According to Burns, one of the best distillations of Ansel Adams isn't a photograph, but a letter Adams wrote to fellow photographer Cedric Wright in 1937 after he "saw a big thundercloud moving down over Half Dome ... so big and clear and brilliant that it made me see many things that were drifting around inside of me. Adams articulates a blueprint for his artistry that, Burns says, describes nothing less than "the essence of real living": "Art is the taking and giving of beauty, the turning out to the light the inner folds of the awareness of the spirit. It is the re-creation on another plane of the realities of the world; the tragic and wonderful realities of earth and men, and of all the interrelations of these. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Note: primary sources have slightly different requirements for citation. Please see these guidelines for more information.

Cited article

Portrait of the Artist as a Human Being: In a Film Airing on PBS in April, Ric Burns Explores the "Quietly Extraordinary" Life of Ansel Adams
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    New feature

    It is estimated that 1 in 10 people have dyslexia, and in an effort to make Questia easier to use for those people, we have added a new choice of font to the Reader. That font is called OpenDyslexic, and has been designed to help with some of the symptoms of dyslexia. For more information on this font, please visit OpenDyslexic.org.

    To use OpenDyslexic, choose it from the Typeface list in Font settings.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Author Advanced search

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.