Robert Adams

Biography

Robert Adams is renowned for his acute observations of suburban American life in Colorado Springs and the greater Denver metropolitan area, where he lived as a teen, and then for more than thirty years until 1997. While teaching literature in the 1960s, Adams began to photograph the surrounding landscape and its historical architecture. By the end of the decade, he had turned his attention fully to recording the deleterious effects of rampant commercial and residential building in a landscape that Jack Kerouac once likened to “the promised land.” The photographs from Adams’s long-term survey of his adopted home would be published in the books The New West, Denver, What We Bought, Eden and Summer Nights, Walking, which are considered classics of photographic literature. 

For Robert Adams, the buildings of Colorado—his home for more than 35 years—have been among the most prominent subjects of his diverse body of work. As early as 1964 he began to photograph the state’s indigenous architecture, in particular the religious structures erected in the late 19th and early 20th centuries by Hispanic and other, mostly immigrant, settlers. He viewed them with passionate regard, and with the belief that buildings, like art, can embody a culture’s aspirations and values.
Following a pivotal trip to Europe in 1968, Adams turned his attention decisively to Colorado’s new architecture. Although he decried the tract homes, highway overpasses, and other graceless examples of suburban infrastructure that were proliferating in the landscapes around Colorado Springs and Denver, he also knew he needed to “see the whole geography, natural and man-made, to experience a peace”—a peace exquisitely reconciled in his pictures through light and form. (Joshua Chuang)

Alongside Lewis Baltz, Bernd and Hilla Becher and others, Robert Adams participated in the seminal exhibition on New Topographics: Photographs of a Man-Altered Landscape in 1975, which announce a new paradigm for landscape photography. Robert Adams received the Hasselblad Award, as well as MacArthur, Guggenheim and National Endowment for the Arts fellowships. His works are in the collections of the Getty Museum in Los Angeles, Yale University Art Gallery, Museum of Modern Art, New York, Art Institute of Chicago, and Sprengel Museum, Hanover, among many others.


Biography

Born 1937 in Orange, New Jersey, USA.

Currently lives in Astoria, Oregon, USA.

Education / Teaching

1956 – 1960

Doctor in English at the University of Southern California, USA

1962 – 1970

Assistant Professor of English at Colorado College, Colorado Springs, USA

Grants and Awards

2022

Lucie Award 2022, Lifetime Achievement, New York, USA

2009

Hasselblad Foundation International Award in Photography, Göteborg, Sweden

2006

Deutsche Börse Photography Prize, The Photographers’ Gallery

2004

Citigroup Photography Prize

1995

Spectrum International Prize for Photography

1994

John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation Award

1987

Charles Pratt Memorial Award

1982

Peer Award from The Friends of Photography

1980

Guggenheim Fellowship

1979

Colorado Governor’s Award in the Arts

1978

National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship

1975

Award of Merit, American Association of State and Local History

1973

Guggenheim Fellowship

National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship

Selected Solo Exhibitions

2023

American Silence: The Photographs of Robert Adams, Nevada Museumm of Art, USA

2022

American Silence: The Photographs of Robert Adams, National Gallery of Art, Washington DC, USA

2018

Robert Adams. A Right to Stand, Fondation A Stichting, Brussels, Belgium

2014

Robert Adams. Buildings in Colorado 1964-1980, Galerie Thomas Zander, Cologne, Germany

The Question of Hope. Robert Adams in Western Oregon, Portland Art Museum, Portland, Oregon

2010 – 2014

Robert Adams. The Place We Live, Travelling tour: Vancouver Art Gallery, Vancouver, Canada; Denver Art Museum, Denver, Colorado; Los Angeles Country Museum of Art; Yale University Art Gallery, New Haven, Connecticut; Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía, Madrid, Spain; Josef Albers Museum, Quadrat, Bottrop, Germany; Jeu de Paume, Paris, France, Fotomuseum Winterthur, Switzerland

2010

Robert Adams, Fotografins Hus, Stockholm, Sweden

2009

Hasselblad Foundation International Award in Photography, Museum of Art, Gothenburg, Sweden

Robert Adams. Seascapes, Galerie Thomas Zander, Cologne, Germany

2007

Robert Adams. Trees 1965-2005, Fraenkel Gallery, San Francisco, California

Robert Adams. On the Edge, Fondation Cartier pour l’Art contemporain, Paris, France

2006

Robert Adams. Pine Valley, Douglas Hyde Gallery, Trinity College, Dublin, Ireland

Robert Adams. Turning Back, Center for Creative Photography, Tuscon, Arizona

Robert Adams. Landscapes of Harmony & Dissonance, The J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles, California

Deutsche Börse Photography Prize, The Photographer’s Gallery, London, UK and Berlin, Frankfurt/Main, Germany

2005

Fraenkel Gallery, San Francisco, California

Robert Adams. Turning Back, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, California

Robert Adams. Turning Back, Haus der Kunst, Munich, Germany

2004

Robert Adams. The Paradise, Douglas Hyde Gallery, Trinity College, Dublin, Ireland

Robert Adams. From the Missouri West, Princeton University Art Museum, Princeton, New Jersey

Robert Adams. The New West, Josef Albers Museum, Bottrop, Germany

2003

Robert Adams. Commerical, Residential, Roth Horowitz, New York, New York

2002

Robert Adams. What We Bought: The New World, Yale University Art Gallery, New Haven, Conneticut

2001

Robert Adams. Places – People, National Museum of Contemporary Art, Oslo, Norway

Robert Adams. Reinventing the West, Addison Gallery of American Art, Andover, Massachusetts

Robert Adams. Sunlight, Solitude, Democracy, Reed College, Portland, Oregon

Robert Adams. True West, Amon Carter Museum, Fort Worth, Texas

2000

Robert Adams. California, Fraenkel Gallery, San Francisco, California

1998

Robert Adams. To the Mouth of the Columbia, The Art Museum, Princeton University, New Jersey

1997

Robert Adams. What We Bought: The New World, Fraenkel Gallery, San Francisco, California

Galerie Meert Rihoux, Brussels, Belgium

1996

Robert Adams. Listening to the River, Columbia College, Chicago, Illinois

Howard Greenberg Gallery, New York, New York

Robert Adams. Our Lives and Our Children, Musée d’Arte Moderne, St. Etienne, France

1995

Robert Adams. West from the Columbia, Fraenkel Gallery, San Francisco, California

Robert Adams. Listening to the River, Forum Stadtpark, Graz, Austria

Robert Adams. What We Bought: The New World, Sprengel Museum, Hanover, Germany

Robert Adams. Listening to the River, Staatliche Kunstsammlungen, Dresden, Germany

1994

Fraenkel Gallery, San Francisco, California

Robert Adams. Listening to the River, Sprengel Museum, Hanover, Germany

1993

Robert Adams. At the End of the Colombia River, Denver Art Museum, Denver, Colorado

Galerie Meert Rihoux, Brussels, Belgium

1992

Centre d’Art Contemporain, Brussels, Belgium

1991

Photo Gallery International, Tokyo, Japan

1990

Dean Jensen Gallery, Milwaukee, Wisconsin

1989

Philadelphia Museum of Art, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

1987

Fraenkel Gallery, San Francisco, California

Portland Art Museum, Portland, Oregon

1986

Denver Art Museum, Denver, Colorado

California Museum of Photography, Riverside, California

1985

Robert Adams. Summer Nights, Fraenkel Gallery, San Francisco, California

Northlight Gallery, Tucson, Arizona

1984

Robert Adams. Our Lives and Our Children, Moravian College, Bethlehem, Pennsylvania

1983

Milwaukee Art Museum, Wisconsin

1981

Castelli Graphics, New York, New York

Philadelphia Museum of Art, Philadelphia

1980

Fraenkel Gallery, San Francisco, California

Atlanta Gallery of Photography, Atlanta, Georgia

1979

Robert Adams. Prairie, Museum of Modern Art, New York, New York

1977

Sheldon Memorial Art Gallery, University of Nebraska, Lincoln, Nebraska

1976

Castelli Graphics, New York, New York

St. John’s College, Santa Fe, New Mexico

Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center, Colorado

Selected Group Exhibitions

2023

60 Years of Collecting: An anniversary exhibition celebrating the UMCA Permanent Art Collection, University Museum of Contemporary Art, Massachusetts, USA

MOMAT Collection, The National Museum of Modern Art, Tokyo, Japan

A Time of Gifts: Six Years of Photographs Given to the Collection, 2016-2022, SBMA, Santa Barbara, USA

2022

Resonances. Fundación MAPFRE Collections, KBr Photography Center, Barcelona, Spain

2021

American Photography, Albertina, Vienna, Austria

2020

BOOKS. An exhibition of books about art and art about books, Galerie Thomas Zander, Cologne, Germany

Robert Adams / Sabine Moritz: Passages, Galerie Thomas Zander, Cologne, Germany

2019

Negativer Raum, Skulptur und Installation im 20./21. Jahrhundert, ZKM | Zentrum für Kunst und Medien, Karlsruhe, Germany

In the Sunshine of Neglect, California Museum of Photography UCR Arts, Riverside, California

2018

The Beauty of Lines. Masterpieces from the Sondra Gilman and Celso Gonzalez-Falla Collection, Musée de l’Elysée, Lausanne, Switzerland

2017

Autophoto, Fondation Cartier pour l’Art contemporain, Paris, France

2015

HyperAmerica. Landscape – Image – Reality, Kunsthaus Graz, Austria

Land Meets Water: European and American Photography from 1860 to the Present, Artipelag, Gustavsberg, Sweden

Myth and Memory in Recent American Landscape Photography, National Gallery of Australia, Canberra, Australia

Take One: Contemporary Photographs, Philadelphia Museum of Art, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

America Is Hard to See, Whitney Museum of American Art, New York

2014

Aperture Remix, Museum Photographic Arts, San Diego, California

Unbeugsam und ungebändigt, Dokumentarische Fotografie um 1979, Museum Ludwig, Cologne, Germany

Mémoires Vives, Fondation Cartier pour l’art contemporain, Paris, France

Prix Pictet: Power, Travelling tour: Museum of Photographic Arts, San Diego, California; Aperture Gallery, New York; Prix Pictet, Zurich, Switzerland

Museum of Fine Arts Boston, „An Enduring Vision. Photographs from the Lane Collection“

The J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles, „At the Window: The Photographer’s View

2013

Looking at the New West Contemporary Landscape Photography, Fralin Museum of Art, Charlottesville, Virginia

30x: Three Decades, Museum of Photographic Arts, San Diego, California

Shared Vision, Princeton University Art Museum, Princeton, New Jersey

2012

true stories, Pinakothek der Moderne, Munich, Germany

Photography Calling!, Sprengel Museum, Hanover, Germany

2011

In Focus, The Sky, The J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles, California

New Topographics, Netherlands Photo Museum, Rotterdam, Netherlands

2010

New Topographics: Photographs of a Man-Altered Landscape, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, San Francisco, California

American Documents, FotoMuseum Antwerp, Belgium

New Topographics: Photographs of a Man-Altered Landscape, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Los Angeles, California

2009

Into the Sunset – Photography’s Image of the American West, The Museum of Modern Art, New York

2008

Oceans, Rivers, and Skies: Ansel Adams, Robert Adams, and Alfred Stieglitz, National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.

2007

What does the Jellyfish want?, Museum Ludwig, Cologne, Germany

2006

Nothing and Everything: Drawing, Painting, Photography and Sculpture, 1896–2006, Fraenkel Gallery, San Francisco, California and Peter Freeman Gallery, New York

Where Rivers Join the Sea: Photographs by Robert Adams and Marcos Zimmerman, The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, Texas

Twilight: Photography in the Magic Hour, Victoria & Albert Museum, London, UK

Tiefenschärfe, Kunsthalle Baden-Baden, Germany

Ectopia: The Second ICP Triennial of Photography and Video, International Center of Photography, New York

60th Anniversary Show, Gimpel Fils, London, UK

2005

Some Trees, Staatliche Kunstsammlungen, Dresden, Germany

Nine Abstract Artists, Osborne Samuel / Scolar Fine Art, London, UK

2004

Open Spaces, P.S. 1, New York

Citigroup Photography Prize, The Photographer’s Gallery, London

Glorious Harvest: Photographs from the Michael E. Hoffman Tribute Collection, Philadelphia Museum of Art, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Verne Dawson, Robert Adams, Douglas Hyde Gallery, Dublin, Ireland

2003

Cruel and Tender: The Real in the 20th Century Photograph, Tate Modern, London, UK

Cruel and Tender: The Real in the 20th Century Photograph, Museum Ludwig, Cologne, Germany

Jede Fotografie ein Bild – Siemens Fotosammlung, Pinakothek der Moderne, Munich, Germany

2002

Adams, Brohm, Berges, Fuchs, Nieweg – Landschaft, Kunsthalle Wilhelmshaven, Germany

2001

Settings and Players, White Cube, London, UK

Das Museum unserer Wünsche, Museum Ludwig, Cologne, Germany

Amerikanische Fotografie um 1970, Mai 36 Galerie, Zurich, Switzerland

2000

How You Look At It, Sprengel Museum, Hanover, Germany

1999

The American Century Art and Culture 1900-2000, Whitney Museum of American Art, New York

Measure of Nature, Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago, Illinois

Sea Change, Center for Creative Photography, Tucson, Arizona

Waterproof, Belem Cultural Center, Lisbon, Portugal

1997

Documenta 10, Kassel, Germany

The View from Denver, Denver Art Museum, Denver, Colorado

Frac Champagne-Ardenne, Reims, France

1996

Crossing the Frontier, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, San Francisco, California

Perpetual Mirage, Whitney Museum of American Art, New York

1995

Silent Witness, Various locations, sponsored by the United Nations

1994

Sea Sights, Offshore Gallery, New York

Hidden Faces, Paul Kopeikin Gallery, Los Angeles, California

1993

Critical Landscapes, Metropolitan Museum of Photography, Tokyo, Japan

National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa, Canada

University Corporation of Atmospheric Research, Boulder, Colorado

Lowinsky Gallery, New York

Esders Gallery, Paris, France

Princeton University, Princeton, New Jersey

1992

Robert Adams / Wim Wenders: Photographs of the American West, Amerika-Haus, Berlin, Germany

Mehr als ein Bild, Sprengel Museum, Hanover, Germany

A History of Oregon Photography, Portland Art Museum, Portland, Oregon

Lowinsky Gallery, New York

1991

Pleasures and Terrors of Domestic Comfort, Museum of Modern Art, New York

The Kiss of Apollo, Fraenkel Gallery, San Francisco, California

Timothy O’Sullivan and Robert Adams, Turner/Krull Gallery, Los Angeles, California

Visions / Revisions, Denver Art Museum, Denver, Colorado

Michener Art Museum, Doylestown, Pennsylvania

1990

The Indomitable Spirit, International Center of Photography, New York

Passages de l’Image, Musée National d’Art Moderne, Paris, France

Notes for Friends, James/Schubert Gallery, Houston, Texas

1989

On the Art of Fixing a Shadow: 150 Years of Photography, National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.

Photography Until Now, Museum of Modern Art, New York

Photography Now, Victoria and Albert Museum, London, UK

Une Autre Objectivité, Centre National des Arts Plastiques, Paris, France

Decade by Decade, Center for Creative Photography, Tucson, Arizona

The Art of Photography 1839-1989, Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, Texas

The New American Landscape, Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, Texas

Picturing California , Oakland Museum, Oakland, California

Night Light, Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, Kansas City, Missouri

1987

Nuovo Paesaggio Americano, Museo Fortuny, Venedig, Italy

American Photographs, 1930-1986, Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago, Illinois

1986

Artists in Mid-Career, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, California

Australian National Gallery, Canberra, Australia

Looking at the American Land, Ohio Wesleyan University, Ohio

Views and Visions, International Center of Photography, New York

1985

Western Spaces, Burden Gallery, New York

Robert Adams / Albert Renger-Patzsch, Kunstverein München e.V., Munich, Germany

1984

Three Americans, Museum of Modern Art, New York

Automobile and Culture, Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, California

1983

Slices of Time: California Landscapes, Oakland Museum, Oakland, California

1981

American Landscapes, Museum of Modern Art, New York

The Whitney Biennale, Whitney Museum of Art, New York

1977

Contemporary American Photographic Works, Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, Texas

1976

Photography for Collectors, Museum of Modern Art, New York

1975

14 American Photographers, Baltimore Museum of Art, Baltimore, Maryland

New Topographics, George Eastman House, Rochester, New York

1973

Contemporary Photographs, Princeton University Art Museum, Princeton, New Jersey

New Acquisitions, Museum of Modern Art, New York

Landscape / Cityscape, Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York

1971

Robert Adams / Emmet Gowin, Museum of Modern Art, New York

1970

New Acquisitions, Museum of Modern Art, New York

1964

Documenta 3, Kassel, Germany

1962

31th Venice Biennale, Venice, Italy

Selected Bibliography

2020

Robert Adams: Los Angeles Spring, Steidl Publishers, Göttingen, Germany

Robert Adams: On Lookout Mountain, Steidl Publishers, Göttingen, Germany

Robert Adams: Eden, Steidl Publishers, Göttingen, Germany

Robert Adams: Summer Nights, Walking, Steidl Publishers, Göttingen, Germany

Joshua Chuang and Robert Adams: Boats, Books, Birds, Steidl Publishers, Göttingen, Germany

2017

Robert Adams: An Old Forest Road, exh. cat., Galerie Thomas Zander, Verlag der Buchhandlung Walther König, Cologne, Germany

2014

Robert Adams: Buildings in Colorado, 1964-1980, exh. cat., Galerie Thomas Zander, Verlag der Buchhandlung Walther König, Cologne, Germany

2013

The Place We Live: A Retrospective Selection of Photographs, 1964-2009 (new edition), Steidl Publishers, Göttingen, Germany

2011

Denver (new edition, Denver Art Museum, Denver, Colorado in cooperation with Fraenkel Gallery, San Francisco, California

The Place We Live: A Retrospective Selection of Photographs, 1964-2009, Yale University Art Gallery, New Haven, Connecticut

2010

What Can We Believe Where? Photographs of the American West, Yale University Art Gallery, New Haven, Connecticut

2009

Denver: A Photographic Survey of the Metropolitan Area (revised edition), Yale University Art Gallery, New Haven, Connecticut

Summer Nights, Aperture, New York and Yale University Art Gallery, New Haven, Connecticut

What We Bought: The New World, Scenes From the Denver Metropolitan Area, 1970 -1974, (2nd edition), Yale University Art Gallery, New Haven, Connecticut

2008

The New West (3rd edition), Aperture, New York

Time Passes, Steidl Publishers, Göttingen, Germany

2006

Manzanita, Nazraeli Press

Interiors 1973-1974, Nazraeli Press

Along Some Rivers, Aperture, New York

2005

Turning Back, Fraenkel Gallery, San Francisco, California

A Portrait in Landscapes, Nazraeli Press

Pine Valley, Nazraeli Press

2003

Commercial Residential: Landscapes Along the Colorado Front Range, 1968-1972, Roth Horowitz, PPP Editions, New York

2002

Alders, Nazraeli Press

Boddhisattva, Nazraeli Press

Reinventing the West, Addison Gallery of American Art, Massachusetts

Sunlight, Solitude, Democracy, Home… Photographs by Robert Adams, Douglas F. Cooley Memorial Art Gallery / Reed College, Portland, Oregon

2000

California, Fraenkel Gallery, San Francisco

The New West (2nd edition), Verlag der Buchhandlung Walther König, Cologne, Germany

1999

Eden, Roth Horowitz, New York

Notes for Friends, University Press of Colorado

I Hear the Leaves and Love the Light, Nazraeli Press

1996

Essais sur le Beau en Photographie, Fanlac, France

Beauty in Photography, Aperture, New York

1995

West from the Columbia, Aperture, New York

Cottonwoods, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C.

What We Bought: The New World: Denver 1973-1974

La Bellezza in Fotografia, Bollati Boringhieri, Italy

1994

Listening to the River: Seasons in the American West, Aperture, New York

Why People Photograph: Selected Essays and Reviews, Aperture, New York

1989

To Make It Home: Photographs of the American West, Aperture, New York

1988

Perfect Times, Perfect Places, Aperture, New York

1986

Los Angeles Spring, Aperture, New York

1985

Summer Nights, Aperture, New York

1983

Our Lives and Our Children: Photographs Taken Near the Rocky Flats Nuclear Weapons Plant, Aperture, New York

The American Space (Introduction) Wesleyan University Press, Connecticut

1981

Beauty in Photography: Essays in Defense of Traditional Values, Aperture, New York

1980

From the Missouri West, Aperture, New York

1978

Prairie, The Denver Art Museum, Colorado

1977

Denver: A Photographic Survey of the Metropolitan Area, Colorado Associated University Press, Boulder, Colorado

1974

The New West: Landscapes Along the Colorado Front Range, Colorado Associated Univ. Press, Boulder, Colorado

The Architecture and Art of Early Hispanic Colorado, Colorado Associated Univ. Press, Boulder, Colorado

1970

White Churches of the Plains: Examples from Colorado, Colorado Assoc. University Press, Boulder, Colorado

Public Collections

Addison Gallery of American Art, Massachusetts

Albright-Knox Gallery, Buffalo, New York

Amon Carter Museum, Fort Worth, Texas

Arizona State University, Tempe, Arizona

Art Institute of Chicago, Illinois

Australian National Gallery, Canberra, Australia

Baltimore Museum of Art, Maryland

Boulder Public Library, Colorado

Bowdoin College, Maine

Canadian Centre for Architecture, Montreal, Canada

Chase Manhattan Bank, New York

Cincinnati Art Museum, Ohio

Colgate University, New York

Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center, Colorado

Colorado State Museum, Denver, Colorado

Denver Art Museum, Colorado

Fond Regional d’Art Contemporain Champagne Ardennes (Reims), France

Fond Regional d’Art Contemporain Lorraine (Metz), France

Fond Regional d’Art Contemporain Rhone-Alps (Musee d’Art Moderne, Saint Etienne), France

Fond National d’Art Moderne, Paris, France

International Museum of Photography, Eastman House, Rochester, New York

Israel Art Museum, Jerusalem, Israel

J. Paul Getty Museum, California

Los Angeles County Museum of Art, California

Madison Art Center, Madison, Wisconsin

Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York

Milwaukee Art Museum, Wisconsin

Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, Texas

Museum of Fine Arts, Santa Fe, New Mexico

Museum of Modern Art, New York

Museum of Modern Art, San Francisco, California

Museum of Photographic Arts, San Diego, California

National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.

National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa, Canada

Nevada Museum of Art, Reno, Nevada

New Mexico State University, Las Cruces, New Mexico

Oakland Museum of Art, California

Philadelphia Museum of Art, Pennsylvania

Portland Art Museum, Oregon

Princeton University, New Jersey

Seattle Art Museum, Washington

Sheldon Memorial Art Gallery, Lincoln, Nevada

Sprengel Museum Hanover, Germany

Staatsgalerie Stuttgart, Germany

Metropolitan Museum of Photography, Tokyo, Japan

University of Colorado, Boulder, Colorado

Victoria and Albert Museum, London, UK

Visual Studies Workshop, New York

Washington Art Consortium, Seattle, Washington

Whitney Museum of American Art, New York

Williams College, Massachusetts

Yale University Art Gallery, Connecticut

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