Fiat Lux Redux: Ansel Adams and Clark Kerr

The Fiat Lux Commission

Written shortly after Clark Kerr first proposed the project to Adams and Newhall, this letter expresses their enthusiasm for this project as well as Adams’s sense of humor.

Draft Letter from Ansel Adams to Clark Kerr, March 27, 1963

Draft Letter from Ansel Adams to Clark Kerr, March 27, 1963

This letter of understanding is a key document because it outlines the three goals and the amount of funding for the project.

Letter from Earl C. Bolton to Ansel Adams, October 21, 1964<br /><br />
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Page 3<br /><br />

Letter from Earl C. Bolton to Ansel Adams, October 21, 1964

Page 3

Outlines Adams’s and Newhall’s overall concept for the book

Letter from Ansel Adams to Dr. Earl Bolton and Mr. Dave Fulton, UC Office of the President, January 24, 1966<br /><br />
Page 1<br /><br />

Letter from Ansel Adams to Dr. Earl Bolton and Mr. Dave Fulton, UC Office of the President,January 24, 1966

Page 1

Wilson’s preliminary sketches became the basis for the layout or placement of text and image for every page of the book.

Adrian Wilson’s Sketch of Layout for Fiat Lux

Adrian Wilson’s Sketch of Layout for Fiat Lux

Designed by Adrian Wilson

From the library of Adrian & Joyce Lancaster Wilson

 

The Fiat Lux book exemplified a genre of photography book that Nancy Newhall is credited with developing: the "spread book" in which photographs and words are carefully calibrated and matched, with picture size and placement shifting in relationship to words and overall design. The effect of such a book, as Ansel Adams described in a letter to a UC administrator, was that each spread within the book must "read well, look well and 'feel' well. The best ideas in the world must be tailored to the total design.

Fiat Lux: The University of California by Ansel Adams and Nancy Newhall

Fiat Lux: The University of California by Ansel Adams and Nancy Newhall

Adrian Wilson (1923-1988)

Adrian Wilson was an internationally known book designer and printer who worked with Ansel Adams on several publications, including Fiat Lux. He learned the art of letter press printing and typography from the poet William Everson who was the son of a printer. Wilson founded “The Press at Tuscany Alley” in San Francisco and in 1983 he won a MacArthur Fellowship, a cash prize awarded to exceptionally talented individuals in diverse creative fields. One of Wilson’s most popular books is The Design of Books, published in 1967 and regarded as a classic text of book design. Others include Printing for Theater (1957), The Making of the Nuremberg Chronicle (1976) and The Work and Play of Adrian Wilson, an illustrated autobiography that he designed and printed in 1983. The Adrian Wilson Papers (BANCMSS 81/151 c) in The Bancroft Library document Wilson's personal and professional life as a fine art printer. In addition to the Papers, the library holds a significant collection of Wilson's published works and ephemera that have been cataloged separately within the library's general collection.

Adrian Wilson and Ansel Adams

Adrian Wilson and Ansel Adams