Ansel Adams NOT among century's most influential? : LUSENET : Large format photography : One Thread

Time Magazine, in its June 8 issue, lists the 100 most influential artists and entertainers of the 20th century. Included are 6 photographers: Henri Cartier-Bresson, W. Eugene Smith, Paul Strand, Edward Weston, Robert Frank, and Cindy Sherman. The first four would be on everyone's list. But Cindy Sherman instead of Ansel Adams? Does this make any sense?

-- Stewart Ethier (, June 04, 1998


It's a very difficult comparison. Cindy Sherman is one of THE photographers of the postmodern era, doing serious and elegant work on representation, particularly of the fairer sex.

Ansel Adams is well, Ansel Adams... In many ways he defines the popular conception of "photography" and of course he was a famed printer and user of big negatives. (I belive most of Sherman's work was on 35mm)

It all comes down to how you define art, I suspect Time put great value on Sherman's intellectual contributions to "art" over Adams work in "photography."

-- Indy Neogy (, June 04, 1998.

I think that Adam's big influence was as first as an enviromentalist, secondly as a teacher of both technical and modernist (aka abstract) art philosophies and thirdly as a photographer. Just a quick glance over the list of people listed shows a bias towards photograhic artists: people intensely making personal statements through the medium of photography. I too admire some of AA's photographic work, and much of what he did has certainly played a role in opening my eyes to the possibilities of light and film.

-- Ellis (, June 05, 1998.

Time let its own criteria ("Influence over greatness") fail them in the Photography category: critics and photographers will debate forever the "genius" of Alfred Steiglitz and Ansel Adams, but few will dispute that these two were probably the most "influential" photographers of the twentieth century. Suffice it to say that if either man hadn't done what he did for the medium of photography, the category wouldn't even have been in this issue of Time.

Cindy Sherman? Let's just say there were, uh, issues of "balance" involved, and apparently Time doesn't think much of Dorothea Lange, Margaret Bourke-White, or Imogen Cunningham. Does anybody think that even 1 out 100 photographers working today--who are, according to Time, influenced by Cindy Sherman--can describe a single image that she's made? 'Nuff said.

-- Bill Daily (, June 08, 1998.

Why get bent out of shape over who was include and who was excluded from a "list of the greatest photographers," at least according to that Time Magazine.

Remember this magazine is meant for general consumption, not for photography afficianados (like the folks in this group). Time wants to give the masses names to mention at a party so that they feel intelligent. Ignore the list, it's just there to generate discussion of their article (and sales of their magazine).

Besides, they boldly stated that the "Truman Show" is the best movie of the decade. I saw it. It's not and doesn't even come close. So let Time make all the declarations it wants to make. We don't have to listen.

-- Stuart Goldstein (, June 09, 1998.

I was listening to NPR and they were discussing, I belive, writers, that were and weren't on T***s list, and the discussion was a lot like this one. I think T**e just found a way to get a lot of free publicity, when was the last t**e you actually bought one?

-- Marv Thompson (, June 09, 1998.

Though I have not read the article, I certainly agree with those statements saying in effect that the article is irrelevant, meant for publicity and allowing people to drop some names. 100 is a pretty arbitrary number, isn't it? Excluding artists like Stieglitz and Lange also seems, as bill Dayly mentioned, pretty strange. An in these fragmented times, who is going to say what art is and what not? If we think AA's strife for technical perfection does not fall into the realm of art proper, I am afraid we have to remove, for instance, 15th century artists - or artisans?- like da Vinci, Michelangelo, Bottichelli and others from the Olymp of high art. There are good reasons to argue that the concept of art as we have it today has some of its most important roots in that time in Italy, and what hapened there and then was very much a search for perfection in illustrating, motivated by the discovery of perspective. -So, whether one likes the work of AA or not (I do!), he explored the possibilities of communitation of the Photografic medium, his influence is continuing so far -what do you expect more of a great artist?

-- Lukas Werth (, June 09, 1998.

We are assuming here that the editors and writers at Time magazine have heard of Ansel Adams, Dorothea Lange et al. This may be an invalid assumption.

-- Darron Spohn (, June 10, 1998.

For large formatists it may be heretical, but how is Adams all that influential? He was treading a path already well-worn by pioneers of landscape photography like William Henry Jackson. Yes, he produced much technically superb, very accessible photography; he certainly wasn't an innovator in artistic terms.

-- Steve Singleton (, June 16, 1998.

I have been reading about photography's history in the early 20th century and I must admit that Ansel Adams' role is still unclear to me. In some ways, he seems like more of an environmentalist. A recent biography (not the one by Ms. Alinder) seems to support this idea. In others, he seems clearly in the modernist fold of making photos (I'm thinking right now of the rose set on driftwood and the weathered barn -- sorry I don't remember better titles as I type this) that show the capacity of the medium. On the other hand, I am personally much more inspired to go and photograph when I see an Ansel Adams landscape than a Cindy Sheman film still. That's just what inspires me.

-- Jim Worthington (, July 18, 1998.

I know that this is a very old question. Isn't Ansel Adams the only photographer to ever appear on the cover of Time Magazine.

-- Jeff White (, July 02, 2000.

"I know that this is a very old question. Isn't Ansel Adams the only photographer to ever appear on the cover of Time Magazine. "

Didn't Alfred Eisenstadt? And he was a Time employee.

Just think, besides AEisenstadt apparently White (Margret), Stackpole, Morse, et al that were the famous Time Life photographers are not on the list. Are they?

-- Bob Salomon (, July 02, 2000.

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