November 23, 2016 -- The Nassau County Museum of Art hosted an opening reception on Friday, November 18 for its latest exhibition - a three part showcase devoted to photography that includes Ansel Adams: Sight and Feeling; Light Works: 100 Years of Photos; and New Photos - Long Island Collects. Collectively, the exhibits present an eclectic view of the art, science and history of photography.
The two dozen Adams photographs of the western landscape offer a glimpse of Adams' evolution and range as photographer - from a 1920 "impressionistic" image of Vernal Falls at Yosemite National Park to the expanded array of tones found in his 1941 Tuolumne Meadows; from the intracacies and veined patterns revealed in a closeup of a Leaf at Glacier Bay National Monument, to his iconic Dunes Oceano which captures on a grander scale the patterns, lines, and shadows of vast sand dunes created by the Pacific winds of Southern California.
The old adage "the Camera cannot lie" is the central theme of the second exhibit, Lightworks, which emphasizes the power of photographers from the late 19th through the early 21st centuries to capture reality - even when that reality may not be seen at first glance by the naked eye. Works include an examination of animal locomotion in Eadweard Muybridge's 1887 Donkey and a Man, as well as the wonder of inanimate nature whether it is a plant viewed up close or a distant mountain. Perhaps standing out most are photographs of the human form - some portraits, others events captured by photojournalists, and still others examinations of a particular subject. Many tend more towards the haunting and dark, but in each the dignity and worth of the people photographed powers through the duress and oppression they endure. Take for instance, the gazes of a Depression-era woman in Dorothea Lange's iconic "Migrant Mother" or those of concentration camp survivors looking through barbed wire at their rescuers in Margaret Bourke-White's Buchenwald; in the face of an African-American infant in a stroller - a sign perched atop it scrawled with the defiant words "Daddy I Want to Be Free" as her father is harassed by Memphis police officers in 1963, or in the determined countenances of the Napiers, an impoverished Appalachian family photographed by Shelby Lee Adams during the late 1980s and early 90s.
The second floor galleries feature the exhibit New Photos: Long Island Collects which includes significant photographic works created from the 1960s through the present day. Among the artists included are John Baldessari, Matthew Barney, Robert Mapplethorpe, Vic Muniz, Cindy Sherman and William Wegman, among many others.
The text accompanying the works in each of the exhibits gives the viewer a history lesson - in particular by highlighting important debates in the field of photography. For instance, the debate between advocates of pictorialism who sought to give photographic images a painting-like quality with "softened tones" and an "atmospheric look," and those who favored "Straignt Photography," believing that "a photograph had to reflect the qualities inherent in the medium" is highlighted in the Adams exhibit. In Lightworks, one is asked to consider whether photography ought to be viewed as an "art" or "science," and offers background to how that that question has been considered historically.
The exhibits will run through March 5, 2017. The works shown in Ansel Adams: Sight and Feeling and Light Works: 100 Years of Photos are drawn from the collection of the Kalamazoo Institute of the Arts (KIA), Kalamazoo, Michigan. Those in New Photos: Long Island Collects, are from private Long Island art collections.
The Museum is offering a variety of public programs to amplify the experience of visiting these three exhibitions. Two films are screening daily: Stryker’s America: Photographing the Great Depression and Cartier-Bresson’s Century. Three Brown Bag Lectures illuminate the art and the artists included in these exhibitions. Other public programs are inspired by the exhibitions: Sketching in the Galleries, and The River, a concert performed by the musical ensemble ETHEL. The Museum’s family programs from November 19 to March 5 similarly draw inspiration from the exhibitions: Neiman Marcus Family Sundays, February Break for Art and two Super Family Sunday offerings, Winter Wonderland and Merrynaking in a Gold Coast Mansion. For further information on these programs, visit the Museum’s website, nassaumuseum.org/events.
Nassau County Museum of Art is located at One Museum Drive in Roslyn Harbor, just off Northern Boulevard, Route 25A, two traffic lights west of Glen Cove Road. The museum is open Tuesday-Sunday, 11 a.m.-4:45 p.m. Admission is $12 for adults, $8 for seniors (62 and above) and $4 for students and children (4 to12). Members are admitted free. Docent-led tours of the exhibition are offered at 2 p.m. each day; tours of the mansion are offered each Saturday at 1 p.m.; meet in the lobby, no reservations needed. Tours are free with museum admission. Family art activities and family tours are offered Sundays from 1 pm; free with museum admission. Call (516) 484-9338, ext. 12 to inquire about group tours. The Museum Store is open Tuesday through Sunday, 11 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. The Red Maple Market Café is open Saturday and Sunday, noon to 3 p.m. Call (516) 484-9337 for current exhibitions, events, days/times and directions or log onto nassaumuseum.org
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Ansel Adams, Oak Tree, Sunset City, Sierra Foothills, California, 1962, gelatin silver print. Collection of the Kalamazoo Institute of Arts; Gift of Wm. John Upjohn. ©The Ansel Adams Publishing Rights Trust.
Light Works: 100 Years of Photos
Dorothea Lange, Migrant Mother, Nipomo, California, 1936, gelatin silver print. Collection of the Kalamazoo Institute of Arts; Gift of the Photo Guild
Ansel Adams: Sight and Feeling
Ansel Adams, Vernal Fall, Yosemite Valley, California, 1920, gelatin silver print. Collection of the Kalamazoo Institute of Arts; Gift of Wm. John Upjohn. ©The Ansel Adams Publishing Rights Trust.