View full screen - View 1 of Lot 97. ANSEL ADAMS | 'PICKET FENCE'.


Auction Closed

April 5, 08:29 PM GMT


15,000 - 25,000 USD

Lot Details


Property from the Manfred Heiting Collection




mounted, signed in pencil on the mount, the photographer's San Francisco studio label (BMFA Label 4), with typed title, on the reverse, circa 1936

4¼ by 4¾ in. (10.8 by 12.1 cm.)

Please note the complete provenance is as follows: An American Place, New York Collection of Beaumont and Nancy Newhall, acquired from the above, 1946 Lunn Gallery, Washington, D. C., acquired from the above, 1979 Acquired by the present owner from the above, circa 1991

An American Place, New York

Collection of Beaumont and Nancy Newhall, acquired from the above, 1946

Lunn Gallery, Washington, D. C., acquired from the above, 1979

Acquired by the present owner from the above, circa 1991

Andrea Gray, Ansel Adams: An American Place, 1936 (Tucson: Center for Creative Photography, 1982) pl. 35 (this print) 

Ansel Adams, Ansel Adams: An Autobiography (Boston, 1985), p. 128 

New York, An American Place, Ansel Adams: Exhibition of Photographs, October - November 1936 

San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, An American Place, May - July 1982 and traveling thereafter to:

Tucson, Center for Creative Photography, University of Arizona, October - November, 1982

Seattle Art Museum, December 1982 - January 1983

Houston, Museum of Fine Arts, February - April 1983

The Art Institute of Chicago, April - May 1983

Washington, D. C., Corcoran Gallery of Art, June - July 1983

Taken at Meyer’s Ranch circa 1936, this photograph is a summation of Ansel Adams’ most inventive imagery from this period. Along with fellow f/64 group photographers Imogen Cunningham (see Lots 103 and 133) and Edward Weston (see Lots 50, 55, 104-105, and 148), at the time Adams was intensely exploring ‘Straight Photography,’ refining each image into a print in which every detail and textured surface leapt from the page in an expression of the ‘simple dignity of the glossy print’ (unpublished manuscript by Ansel Adams, circa 1934, AAA/CCP). Adams classified this body of work by labeling his negatives with the letter ‘C’ for Composition, referring to images he produced which were detailed, close-up views.

Adams printed the photograph offered here for his 1936 solo exhibition at Alfred Stieglitz’s New York gallery, An American Place. It was one of 45 contact prints or very slight enlargements Adams selected for inclusion. In a letter to Stieglitz describing the printing process for the show, Adams wrote, ‘I tried to recreate the experience of making the negative. The pictures seemed to become more intense’ (Letter from Ansel Adams to Alfred Stieglitz, 11 October 1936, YCAL). Working tirelessly to perfect the presentation of each exhibited print, Adams commissioned a new label design from Lawton Kennedy and refined his signature so as not to distract the viewer from the image.

Following Stieglitz’s death in 1946, Beaumont and Nancy Newhall were invited by Georgia O’Keeffe to come to the gallery where they selected the present print and two others from Adams’ 1936 exhibition. In a letter to Adams the next day, Nancy Newhall recounted, ‘We accepted your generosity to the extent of adding three to our collection, and they are now hanging on the wall. One is the Mariposa courthouse against the black sky. The others are little jewels—one of a picket fence, and the other a perfect pair to it with similar forms but of weathered wood’ (Ansel Adams: An American Place, p. 33). The admiration for this pair of prints was one which Stieglitz had shared—the two ‘little jewels’ had been hung side by side during the original exhibition.

At the time of this writing, no other print of this image has been located. The negative for this image is housed in the Ansel Adams Archive at the Center for Creative Photography at the University of Arizona, Tucson.