Robert Adams: Art Can Help
Yale University Press, 2021
In Art Can Help, the internationally acclaimed American photographer Robert Adams offers over two dozen meditations on the purpose of art and the responsibility of the artist. In particular, Adams advocates art that evokes beauty without irony or sentimentality, art that “encourages us to gratitude and engagement, and is of both personal and civic consequence.” Following an introduction, the book begins with two short essays on the works of the American painter Edward Hopper, an artist venerated by Adams. The rest of this compilation contains texts—more than half of which have never before been published—that contemplate one or two works by an individual artist. The pictures discussed are by noted photographers such as Julia Margaret Cameron, Emmet Gowin, Dorothea Lange, Abelardo Morell, Edward Ranney, Judith Joy Ross, John Szarkowski, and Garry Winogrand. Several essays summon the words of literary figures, including Virginia Woolf and Czeslaw Milosz. Adams’s voice is at once intimate and accessible, and is imbued with the accumulated wisdom of a long career devoted to making and viewing art. This eloquent and moving book champions art that fights against disillusionment and despair.