Nancy Newhall and Ansel Adams, who had worked together on several previous books, aimed with Fiat Lux to produce not a documentary photographic book about the University but rather an expressive, poetic, and personal interpretation.
The American Trust Company published this book to commemorate its centennial in 1954. This publication inspired Clark Kerr to hire Adams and Newhall for Fiat Lux.
This publication was a forerunner and model for Adams’s and Newhall’s integration of image and text in Fiat Lux
Ansel Adams 1902-1984
At the time of his death in 1984, Ansel Adams wasAmerica’s most renowned photographer. Today his influence remains unparalleled in the history of American photography through his legacy of photographs of the American wilderness in the West, publications, workshops, and advocacy of environmental conservation. Adams’s technical books in which he codified the Zone System set the standard for the fine art black and white photographic print.
Before collectors and museums created a market for fine art photographs,Adamsand his cameras were for hire. He counted Hasselblad Cameras, Polaroid, American Trust Company, and the University of California among his clients. Much of Adams’s commercial work, including the 605 Fiat Lux photographs in The Bancroft Library, remains almost unknown to the public because they are not readily associated with the familiar Adams—the supreme dramatist of mountains, rocks, trees, and skies. Some of his better-known photographs, however, graced calendars and posters and occasionally they promoted consumer products, an example of which is represented by the Hills Brothers coffee can on display in the exhibition.
Adams was a California native son whose singular vision and innovative techniques greatly influenced generations of photographers working in many genres.