Photography

Ansel Adams' Manzanar photos are in town

ansel+manzanar+calisthenics.jpgAll photos by Ansel Adams 1943 unless noted.

I'm a big fan of Ansel Adams' photographs from the Manzanar internment camp where Japanese Americans from Los Angeles and elsewhere on the West Coast were taken and interned during World War II. I posted some of my favorites from the Library of Congress collection in 2012. Except that they are locked up in the cold, desolate Owens Valley 230 miles from home, the subjects of Adams photographs look and dress like any Angelenos of the 1940s. We also see the spartan conditions the Americans taken from their homes and businesses were forced to spend years in. And of course the breathtaking landscape along U.S. Highway 395, along the eastern side of the Sierra Nevada.

The Skirball Cultural Center museum in Sepulveda Pass has an exhibition up of some of the Ansel Adams Manzanar photos, along with a selection from the collection of Toyo Miyatake and some Dorothea Lange images of the families being transported to camps in 1942. If you liked the Dorothea Lange photos of Los Angeles I posted recently, you should appreciate these too.

Manzanar: The Wartime Photographs of Ansel Adams opened at the Skirball last week and runs there until Feb. 21. From the curators:

Presented at the Skirball in association with the Japanese American National Museum, the exhibition features fifty photographs by Adams of the Japanese American incarceration camp in Manzanar, California, during World War II. These photographs were the subject of Adams’s controversial book Born Free and Equal, published in 1944 while war was still being waged. The book protested the treatment of these American citizens and what Adams called their “enforced exodus.” Powerful forms of civic and artistic expression, the images speak to the Skirball’s mission of confronting injustice, embracing diversity, and preserving community....


In addition to Adams’s work, the Skirball’s presentation of the exhibition includes other photographs, documents, publications, artifacts, and works of art that detail life and conditions at Manzanar and offer personal narratives of the experience. A range of propaganda posters, films, pamphlets, and magazines portray the anger, prejudice, and overt racism of the times. Additional material from Adams’s contemporaries, Dorothea Lange and Toyo Miyatake, is highlighted.

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manzanar-from-guard-tower-s.jpg

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boys-barbed-wire-manzanar-skirball.jpgToyo Miyatake, 1944


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