Robert Adams: Commercial/Residential




Robert Adams’s “Commercial /Residential” features a portfolio of 40 vintage photographs from 1968 to 1972.

The unique prints on view were originally part of a larger portfolio which Adams published as The New West in 1974. These 40 images were not included in that publication and are presented here for the first time, sequenced in a new series titled “Commercial/Residential.” This new book is a companion volume to Eden (also available through the A.R.T. Library Program), which Andrew Roth published in 1999. Together, they chart the chronology of Adams’s formative work.

“Commercial/Residential” presents two parallel and fundamental themes: the evolution of private and public space in the American west. The Commercial portfolio of 20 images is organically constructed, documenting the expansion of undeveloped landscape in Colorado as civilization encroaches on nature. The images in the Residential portfolio are witness to the ways in which men and women personalize the new, the unknown, making it their own. Through light and a masterful ease with the medium, Adams evokes the drama in the ordinary. The pictures seem without author, as natural as a passing glance, as familiar as a snapshot.

From Commercial/Residential:
“At about the time I took the pictures I read an interview with Raoul Coutard, Jean-Luc Godard’s cameraman. In it Coutard noted with gratitude that ‘daylight has an inhuman faculty for always being perfect.’ It is one of the mercies, I believe, by which each of us is allowed to live.”

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