Ansel Adams correspondence with Imogen Cunningham

Summary
Collection ID:
AAA.adamanse
Creators:
Adams, Ansel, 1902-1984
Cunningham, Imogen, 1883-1976
Dates:
1949-1976
Languages:
English
Physical Description:
1 microfilm reel
73 items on partial microfilm reel
Repository:

Scope and Contents
Scope and Contents
This microfilm collection of Ansel Adams correspondence with Imogen Cunningham consists of correspondence between Ansel and his wife Virginia Best Adams and Imogen Cunningham. Most letters are from Cunningham. They write about their work and about both artistic and technical problems of photography, about various proposals for a monograph on Cunningham, about Nathan Lyons and Karl Struss, and about personal matters. In one letter, Mrs. Adams offers Cunningham detailed advice on the disposition of her works and papers after her death.

Biographical / Historical
Biographical / Historical
Ansel Adams (1902-1984) was an American landscape photographer known for his black and white images of the American West. He took some of his earliest photographs at national parks and as a member of the Sierra Club, which he joined at the age of 17. He was later contracted with the United States Department of the Interior to make photographs of national parks. In 1980, he was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom for his work and environmental advocacy.
With Fred Archer, Adams developed the Zone System, a technique to determine the ideal film exposure and development to achieve full tonal range. The clarity and depth resulting from this technique characterized Adams's photography.
Adams was a key advisor in establishing the photography department at the Museum of Modern Art in New York, and helped to stage their first exhibition. He helped found Group f/64, an association of photographers who advocated for "pure" photography favoring sharp focus and the use of the full tonal range of a photograph. He also helped found the photography magazine Aperture, and co-founded the Center for Creative Photography at the University of Arizona.
Virginia Best Adams (1904-2000) and Ansel Adams married in 1928. After her father, Harry Best, passed away in 1936, Virginia Best Adams managed Best's Studio (now the Ansel Adams Gallery), selling high quality merchandise including a series of Ansel Adams photographs called special edition prints. She was an active environmentalist and served on the board of directors of the Sierra Club from 1931 to 1933, was a Trustee of the Yosemite Natural History Association, and was also an avid mountaineer, credited with making the first ascent by a woman of a route on Mt. Whitney in what is now Sequoia National Park.
Imogen Cunningham (1883-1976) was a photographer in California known for her botanical photography, nudes, and industrial landscapes. Cunningham began her career producing soft-focus prints in the tradition of pictorialism. In the early 1920s she shifted focus to close-up, sharply detailed studies of plant life and other natural forms. In 1932, Cunningham joined Ansel Adams in Group f/64, a group formed in opposition to pictorialism and dedicated to precisely exposed images.

Administration
Existence and Location of Copies
35mm microfilm reel 1410 available for use at Archives of American Art offices and through interlibrary loan.
Reproduction Note
Letters are photocopies.
Existence and Location of Originals
Original letters are owned by the Center for Creative Photography, Tucson, Arizona.
Author
Immediate Source of Acquisition
Photocopies of the letters were donated 1978 by Ansel Adams and microfilmed on reel 1410. Photocopies discarded after microfilming.

Using the Collection
Conditions Governing Access
The Archives of American Art does not own the originals. Microfilmed materials must be consulted on microfilm. Contact Reference Services for more information.
Conditions Governing Use
Authorization to publish, quote or reproduce must be obtained from: Executor of the Ansel Adams Publishing Rights Trust, Box 181, Route 1, Carmel, California 93921. Items for which publication permission is received must carry the following credit: "Courtesy of the Center for Creative Photography, University of Arizona at Tucson."

Related Materials
The Archives of American Art also holds the Ansel and Virginia Adams letters from Imogen Cunningham, 1966; the Imogen Cunningham papers, 1903-1991; and an oral history interview with Imogen Cunningham, 1975 June 9 conducted by Louise Katzman and Paul Karlstrom. The University of California, Berkeley Bancroft Library holds the Ansel Adams collection and the University of California, Los Angeles Charles E. Young Research Library holds the Ansel Adams Papers, 1938-1944. The University of Arizona, Center for Creative Photography holds the Ansel Adams archive, the Ansel Adams Miscellaneous Acquisitions collection, the Ansel Adams Publishing Rights Trust, and the Imogen Cunningham Miscellaneous Acquisitions Collection, 1920s-1974.

Keywords
Keywords table of terms and types.
Keyword Terms Keyword Types
Photography Topic Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Photographers Occupation Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Photographers -- California Occupation Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Women artists Topic Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Lyons, Nathan Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Struss, Karl, 1886- Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Adams, Virginia Best Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid

Repository Contact
Archives of American Art
750 9th Street, NW
Victor Building, Suite 2200
Washington, D.C. 20001
https://www.aaa.si.edu/services/questions
https://www.aaa.si.edu/