Hundreds of lost Ansel Adams photo prints found at UC Berkeley


posted Tuesday, October 2, 2012 at 8:56 AM EDT


Talk about a photographic treasure trove! Over 600 signed prints by legendary American photographer Ansel Adams have been discovered in a box at the University of California's Berkeley campus.

The prints -- totalling 605 in number -- were part of a project Adams had been hired for in the 1960s, which involved photographing the UC system. The images were slated to be part of a coffee table-sized book celebrating the university system's centennial in 1968.

But the man who hired Adams at the time, University of California President Clark Kerr, was fired by then Governor Ronald Reagan and the centennial project was mothballed. Quite literally.

The prints were discovered recently by UC Berkeley theater and dance professor Catherine Cole after she had been combing through documents in the school archive for an unrelated project.

"I kept seeing the name Ansel Adams and thought 'what the heck is he doing all over the UC archives,'" Cole told the San Francisco Chronicle.

Her search led her to the school's Bancroft Library, where she found the Adams prints in a box among the university's rare collections.

Fifty of the prints are now on display at the library.

Those familiar with Adams' spectacular black-and-white photos of the American West, including his extensive studies of the National Parks, might be a bit surprised by his images of the UC system. The few we've seen -- included in this story -- are somewhat unremarkable subject-wise, consisting of photos of a school band at a parade, students an an animal clinic, and soaring shots of school campuses.

Photo by Ansel Adams, Bancroft Library

But as a reminders of the old master's photographic skills, particularly his dramatic use of shadows and stunning exposures, the now rediscovered Adams photos are nothing short of amazing.

This story also has a seemingly much more positive ending than the controversial claim by a California man back in 2010 that he had purchased a box of "lost" Adams negatives at a garage sale. The authenticity of that finding ended in dispute.

(Via Reddit)

Photo by Ansel Adams, Bancroft Library
Photo by Ansel Adams, Bancroft Library