Young Oaks – Ansel Adams – Story behind the Image

Ansel Adams: Young Oaks

Young Oaks-Winter, Yosemite, 1935 by Ansel Adams
Young Oaks-Winter, Yosemite, 1935

Ansel Adams ( 1902-1984) took this photograph “Young Oaks-Winter” in Yosemite Park in 1935. It was used as a cover illustration for his book and while it’s not among his most well known images, it is unmistakably a Adams photograph, displaying both a perfectly balanced composition with the wide tonal range he was famous for. The key element of the “young oaks” is the deep black tree trunks contrasting with the bright white field of snow and the complex grays of the horizontal evergreen row which imbues this quiet photograph with dynamic movement.

This particular photograph brings many disparate Adams facts, stories and elements together. Ansel long maintained a gallery and work studio in Yosemite that is still active to this day. In 1958 he began making The Ansel Adams Special Edition Yosemite 8×10 contact prints. Available as souvenirs of the park at low cost but while still carrying his full signature.  There is divergent opinion among the Adams experts as to whether they were in fact printed by Ansel when the series started and shortly after, but The Ansel Adams Special Edition Yosemite photos continue on in the present day.  This particular print of Young Oaks-Winter was purchased by the parents of our client in Yosemite Park where they were married. The story says that Ansel signed the piece in front of them just after the purchase…probably for the princely sum of about $10 in the late 50’s.

Those who have spoken with Gallery 270 Director Tom Gramegna about how he got interested in photography know of his reverence for the work of Ansel Adams. In the course of his career, growing numbers of people continued to embrace Adams’ photographic work that also contained a powerful environmental message to preserve our National Parks and wild places. This made Ansel Adams a household name, along with bolstering photgraphy’s acceptance as an art form with a nascent group of prescient collectors. Headlines were made when these collectors pushed an Ansel Adams photograph past the $10k photo auction record when an Adams headlines on a trajectory by making masses of people aware of photography as an affordable collectible and accessible art form.

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