Phillips’ Photography Auction Spotlights 18 Works by Robert Adams

Manish Khatiwada
Published on

The Reframing Beauty auction of a private Seattle collection, hosted by Phillips, will start on October 7th, 2021 in New York. Offering 65 lots, the sale provides a wide array of modern and contemporary photographs dating between 1964 and 2006. Among them are 18 important works by American landscape photographer Robert Adams.

Kerstin Adams’ portrait of Robert Adams, 2004. Image © Robert Adams, courtesy Fraenkel Gallery, San Francisco and Matthew Marks Gallery, New York.
Kerstin Adams’ portrait of Robert Adams, 2004. Image © Robert Adams, courtesy Fraenkel Gallery, San Francisco and Matthew Marks Gallery, New York.

Born in New Jersey in 1937, Adams grew up in the suburbs of Denver, Colorado. In 1956, he traveled to Southern California to pursue a degree at the University of Redlands. He then majored in English literature and graduated from the University of Southern California with a Ph.D. in 1965.

After Adams returned to the suburbs, he was shocked by the changing landscape and architecture of Colorado. He purchased a 35-mm reflex camera, taught himself the basics of photography, and started taking photographs inspired by nature. By the 1970s, Adams was one of the most prolific photographers in the United States. He is now best known for his images of the American West.

Robert Adams, Southwest from the South Jetty, Clatsop County, Oregon, 1990. Image from Phillips.
Robert Adams, Southwest from the South Jetty, Clatsop County, Oregon, 1990. Image from Phillips.

Most of his photographs explore the relationship between nature and humans. Adams also addresses the issues of urbanization and climate change through his work. “The goal,” he has said, “is to face facts but to find a basis for hope. To try for alchemy.”

A polyptych titled Southwest from the South Jetty, Clatsop County, Oregon serves as an example of the nature of his work (USD 50,000 – $70,000). Created in 1990, Adams split this piece across five photographs. It shows the current of the sea through the passage of time. Adams’ seascapes demonstrate the beauty of the natural world and the role humans play in its transformation.

Robert Adams, Colorado Springs, Colorado, 1979. Image from Phillips.
Robert Adams, Colorado Springs, Colorado, 1979. Image from Phillips.

American photographers Lewis Hine and Dorothea Lange inspired Adams’ artistic practice. Although Hine and Lange’s artistic styles predominantly focused on people’s emotions and their circumstances, Adams’ works rarely do. “Instead, human presence is felt via its trace on the world— the light that lingers on in the house (lot 2) or the citrus grove that has been cleared for new development (lot 5)— and [Adams’] message is carried via the universal, rather than the personal,” according to the lot essay for Southwest from the South Jetty, Clatsop County, Oregon.

Between the 1970s and 80s, Adams published a series of books including The New West, Denver, and Summer Nights. These books mainly examine the expansion of suburbs in Western landscapes. Since then, Adams’ photographs have continued to draw the attention of collectors and the public.

Phillips’ Reframing Beauty live auction will begin on October 7th, 2021. The sale will also highlight the works of Peter Hujar, Roni Horn, Diane Arbus, Hiroshi Sugimoto, and Richard Misrach, among others. For the complete listings, visit Phillips.

Want to learn more about modern and contemporary artists? Auction Daily recently examined the work of renowned Romanian contemporary painter Șerban Savu.

Media Source
Writer
James Ardis
James Ardis
Senior Writer and Editor

James Ardis is a writer, editor, and content strategist focused on the auction industry. His company, James Ardis Writing, has partnered with auction houses, galleries, and many clients outside the art world.

More in the auction industry