An interview of Robert Adams conducted 2010 July 20, by Toby Jurovics, for the Archives of American Art, at Adams' home, in Astoria, Oregon.
Robert Adams speaks of compensating his early struggles with polio with activity outdoors; his close relationship with his father through outdoor expeditions; visiting the Denver Art Museum as a teenager; years of study and experimentation with photography on his own and under the direction of Myron Wood; the financial struggle of transitioning from an English professor to a full-time photographer; the outcome of his work under the Guggenheim and MacArthur Foundation Fellowships; his first sale of photographs to the Museum of Modern Art; the role of spirituality and morality in art; environmental and societal concerns such as deforestation, climate change, and overpopulation that inform much of his work; the foreboding change in landscape he has observed in the American West since the 1970s; his concern that future generations of landscape photographers may not share the same connection with the land as he has experienced; the need to change society's domineering view of the wilderness; the working relationship he shares with his wife, Kerstin; the process of publishing his photographs and the importance of quality materials and printing in these publications; the sequence of the books he has published as a reflection of his life experiences. Adams also recalls Michael Hoffman, John Szarkowski, Myron Wood, Lewis Baltz, Leo Castelli, Beaumont Newhall, Emmet Gowin, Ansel Adams, Timothy O'Sullivan, and others.
Biographical / Historical:
Robert Adams (1937- ) is a photographer in Astoria, Oregon. Toby Jurovics (1965- ) is curator of photography at the Smithsonian American Art Museum in Washington, D.C.
Originally recorded on 3 memory cards. Reformatted in 2010 as 5 digital wav files. Duration is 2 hr., 57 min.
This interview is part of the Archives of American Art Oral History Program, started in 1958 to document the history of the visual arts in the United States, primarily through interviews with artists, historians, dealers, critics and administrators.
Audio: ACCESS RESTRICTED; use requires written permission. Contact Archives Reference Services for information.
Use of the audio of this interview, with permission, requires an appointment and is limited to the Archives of American Art reading rooms.
Files containing Sturtevant's students' grades have been restricted, as have his students' and colleagues' grant and fellowships applications. Restricted files were separated and placed at the end of their respective series in boxes 87, 264, 322, 389-394, 435-436, 448, 468, and 483. For preservation reasons, his computer files are also restricted. Seminole sound recordings are restricted. Access to the William C. Sturtevant Papers requires an apointment.
William C. Sturtevant papers, National Anthropological Archives, Smithsonian Institution
The papers of William C. Sturtevant were processed with the assistance of a Wenner-Gren Foundation Historical Archives Program grant awarded to Dr. Ives Goddard. Digitization and preparation of these materials for online access has been funded through generous support from the Arcadia Fund.