historians, the certainty remains that the two figures in the painting were given as lifelike a portrayal as van Eyck’s skills allowed.
This painting, like countless others, was meant to preserve a memorable time. Portraits, landscapes, Biblical images, all painted in meticulous detail, or in a sense, photographic detail. Since it invention, photography has changed not only the world of fine art, but has became a fine art itself and, like painting and sculpture, has developed a long history with many faces. Like painting and other art forms, photography has also evolved with the help of bold individuals such as Ansel Adams.
Ansel Adams and the Emergence of Photography as Fine Art
Ansel Adams was born in San Francisco in 1902. He studied music and photography becoming an accomplished concert pianist until 1930. In 1932 he, along with Edward Weston and others, formed Group f/64, which was comprised of photographers who promoted their craft as fine art.
Photography, like many new art forms, was not initially accepted within the world of art. It was seen merely as a means of preserving a historical image or a faster way of portrait making. The portraits, however, meant very little in the world of art and the limits of their value never reached beyond the persons contained within them.
Ansel Adams’ desire to change the use of photography and to gain respect in the field of art did not have an immediate affect. Yet such partnerships as that with Georgia O’Keefe, who at the time of their first meeting in 1929 was emerging as one of America’s most influential modern artists, allowed Adams to begin to relate his photography to the modern art world.
The Success and Legacy of Ansel Adams
Though there are perhaps millions of cameras in use around the world and perhaps billions of photographs taken from those cameras each year, very few would be considered fine art. What Ansel Adams was able to accomplish with a camera went beyond simply preserving an image or attempting to keep a memory close at hand. He used his camera to take hold of the world around him in much the same way as the painters of artistic tradition, and leaves the viewer with such a convincing image that the light and textures and perhaps even the heat of the sun and scent of the trees come alive in the mind.
One may often take for granted the beauty of a photograph framed in art gallery or displayed on the cover of a magazine. Yet, where it not for such artistic visionaries as Ansel Adams and those he partnered with in Group f/64, and were it not for the open-mindedness to associate two art forms and combine his photography with the paintings of Georgia O’Keefe, photography as a fine art may not yet exist as does today.