Ansel Adams and Our Cadillar Desert

)   As the world grapples with the impact of climate change, a small but compelling exhibition at the Neuberger Museum of Art, Purchase College, SUNY, puts the issues of protecting our fragile ecosystem into sharp focus.


In a new exhibition, Ansel Adams and Our Cadillac Desert, selections of work from the Neuberger’s permanent collection by legendary artist Ansel Adams, correlate geographic areas in the American West, portrayed by Adams and described in the seminal book Cadillac Dessert The American West and its Disappearing Water by Mark Reisner, address land development and water policy, and their socio-economic impact. The book, which students in Purchase College’s Environmental Studies program are reading, also covers the economics, politics, and ecology of water during more than a century of public and private desert reclamation.


“Our goal is to promote discussion about human dependence on climate patterns, and the fragility of our ecosystem – with water as an overarching concept,” notes Kristen Lindberg, co-curator of the exhibition with Dr. Ryan W. Taylor, Associate Professor of Environmental Studies in the School of Natural and Social Sciences at Purchase College. The exhibition also focuses on human resiliency, tribal rights, and other socio-cultural concerns.


Adams’ images of Mount Tom in the Sierra Nevada; petroglyphs; the interior of Tumacacori Mission; the mudhills in Arizona; and Yosemite National Park are among the works on view. A photographer and environmentalist, Adams reveled in nature’s beauty. He endlessly traveled the country in pursuit of the natural beauty he revered and photographed, and was an unremitting activist for the cause of wilderness and the environment. The clarity of his lens and his technical mastery are the stuff of legend.


“His black-and-white images were not ‘realistic’ documents of nature. Instead, they sought an intensification and purification of the psychological experience of natural beauty. He created a sense of the sublime magnificence of nature that infused the viewer with the emotional equivalent of wilderness, often more powerful than the actual thing.” – Ansel Adams Gallery


The Daily Beast described Reisner’s book as an example of “first-hand reporting, judicious background research, and old-fashioned (but not strident) moral outrage. Precarious [is how he] describes the West’s system of water supply and how the system’s design and operation have been driven from the beginning by big-money politics and macho rivalries.”


The exhibition, which opens February 6th and remains on view through May 26th, is on view in the Neuberger’s Open Classroom, which brings timely academic dialogues into the curatorial space through the study of and engagement with the Museum’s permanent collection. The space showcases collaborations with Purchase College students and faculty and features projects that move beyond the scope of the traditional classroom. There is much to see and much to consider.


Event Location and Ticket Information

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Neuberger Museum of Art
735 Anderson Hill Rd.
Purchase, New York 10577
Handicap Accessible? Yes

Date: Wednesday, April 24, 2019
Times: 12:00 pm - 5:00 pm

Ticket pricing:

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- $5 general admission for non-members; $3 seniors and students

Presenter: Neuberger Museum of Art
Presenter Phone: 914-251-6100
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