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The year 2002 marks a symbolic milestone in the history of photography A century ago on February 20 1902 Ansel Adams was born in San Francisco In an unusually good week for California creativity John Steinbeck was born exactly seven days later in Salinas A flurry of tributes from books and documentary films to a record number of museum exhibitions is currently honoring the centennial of Americas favorite photographer For many he is the only photographer The vision of Adams with broad-brimmed hat and beard fussing with his view camera in some rocky Sierran landscape is one of the defining images of photography His pictures appear among us as comforting friends on postcards posters and calendars But Ansel Adams did not spring fully formed from some photographic half-shell Like all artists he was the product of complex influences and human contacts The inspiration of Yosemite on the budding photographer is obvious and often acknowledged but the role of other artists as well as his influence on younger photographers is less often noticed The Oakland Museum of California explores these connections in Ansel Adams Inspiration and Influence an exhibition which places Adams in the context of a century and a half of photographic art A restless child who had difficulty fitting in the young Adams nevertheless was given ample opportunity for self-expression by an indulgent father At the age of 13 the elder Adams gave Ansel in lieu of school a years pass to San Franciscos Panama Pacific International Exposition Adams later credited the art exhibits at the fair which included photography with instilling a love of art At about this time he also began serious studies at the piano Adams the photographer would become renowned as a dedicated and fastidious some would say obsessive technician He attributed this interest in technique to the early training as a pianist where he learned to combine long hours of practicing rudimentary skills with intuitive creativity He was fond
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