NEW YORK—With an eye to becoming the principal source for artists and scholars interested in the work of photographer Robert Adams, the Yale University Art Gallery purchased 15 sets of the artist’s prints, comprising 1,465 images.
The acquisition, which was brokered through San Francisco’s Fraenkel Gallery for an undisclosed purchase price, includes an agreement that the gallery will receive one print, or set of prints, of all Adams’s future work. Having bought other photographs by the artist previously, the total number of Adams images in Yale’s collection now stands at 1,660.
The 15 sets contain varying numbers of prints, ranging from as few as 13 images to more than 170. Jock Reynolds, director of the gallery, calls the prints acquired by Yale “vintage, the very best prints Adams made.”
The record for Adams’s work at auction is $28,680, set at Phillips, de Pury and Luxembourg in April 2003 for a set of six gelatin silver prints that had been estimated at $8,000/12,000. At a Sotheby’s auction last April, a single print, Colorado Springs, 1974, fetched $21,600, more than four times the high estimate.
The artist’s “work needs to stay together as an entirety,” Reynolds told ARTnewsletter. “He is not someone who is known for iconic single images but for an entire body of work.” He notes that the gallery plans to create a touring retrospective of the photographer’s work circa 2010-11.
Adams (b. 1937) trained his camera on the landscape of the American West. He focused not only on the beauty of nature but on the destruction of it caused by unchecked population growth.
Reynolds has made building Yale’s photography collection a priority, with special focus on photographs of the American West from the 19th century to the present. Recently the gallery also purchased Lewis Baltz’s Park City project and Emmet Gowin’s aerial photographs of the West.