As World War II was just underway and the United States had yet to take the plunge into its hellish cauldron, Fortune magazine commissioned renowned photographer Ansel Adams to provide the pictures for a story on the mushrooming rise of the aircraft industry around Los Angeles in 1940. Celebrated for his iconic views of the pristine Western landscape, Adams proved himself to be a gifted urban photo-documentarian in his L.A. images, which appear here for the first time outside the magazine in contemporary prints. In the twenty-seven shots on display, Adams ranges from the streets, through the lunch stands where aircraft workers took their breaks, to intimate bar conversations, always with impeccable composition and his signature precision, which sacrifices some of the warmth of traditional street photography for the cooler satisfactions of elegant form. Going beyond his immediate subject and into the city, Adams relied in many of his images on signage to convey meaning and feeling, as when we see a fluoroscopy parlor on Sunset Boulevard outside of which passersby are hailed to inspect “your own organs work with your own eyes.” It is right next to Juliette’s Manicures. We can still get our nails done, but being x-rayed for fun has given way to new fashions in killing ourselves with technology. (Michael Weinstein)
Through June 30 at Bert Green Fine Art, 8 South Michigan, Suite 1220
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