Sample Essay on Robert Adams

Background information

The investigation will discuss Robert Adams, an artist who was born in New Jersey, 1937 and graduated with a Bachelor of Arts from the University of California. It is affirmed that Adams later achieved a PhD in English from the University of Southern California; this enlightened him to distinguish art from politics at the time (Art21). Visual experts have confirmed that Adams was a renowned environmentalist and that he used art mostly black and white images to achieve his mission of sensitizing people on the importance of environmental conservation (Art21). As a photographer he believed that black and white were the best colors in photography despite other photographers asserting that color photography was and still famous in photography (Bright 45).

It is believed that his photographs were so famous to the extent of being published in books in traditional photography format; the images were also tangled on light gray walls that signified and represented the grim formalism of figures and objects (Art21).  Despite modern criticisms by postmodern philosophers that photography is a suspect gossip-monger that does not represent the truth, he continued representing art and even disputed the notion and affirmed that photography was a way of telling the truth (Costello and Margaret 23).  He was able to capture photographic images of construction of highways and housing and synthesized them in form of artworks that could communicate messages to audience.

Quarried Mesa Top, Pueblo County

In this piece of artwork Adams captured an altered landscape in 1978 and was represented by a massive quarry created as a result of huge construction sites and abandoned landscape suggesting a wasteland conquered through mass production. The media that Adams used in composing the piece of art in black and white photographs that represented sights of some of the degraded and abandoned sites in West America (Art21). The theme of this artwork is the impacts of human activities on the environment and was chosen so as to capture the effects of human activities on land with the abandoned quarry representing the result of building and constructions.

Experts have asserted that Quarried Mesa Top, Pueblo County artwork represents the traces of human life brought about by civilization and construction of structures (Art21). From the image it is clear that there were unlimited natural resources for use that existed in West America, this led to exhaustion of resource and thus a wasted landscape can be seen from the photograph. In my view, this artwork point out that natural resources can be restored despite degradation and that in most cases human through their activities can react positively or negatively to the environment. It can be affirmed that humans try to improve their lives and embrace modernization through the use of scarce natural resources (Art21).

Design elements and principles are important in composition of art; Adam has effectively used color as an element by combining black and white color in the piece. Based on the art, black has been used to show negative connotation and suggest environmental destruction since it is used to show dug up holes and soil. Experts have affirmed that black color used to compose the holes instincts fear associated with environment degradation to the audience while the white color has been useful in providing a distinction on the environment (Miwon 16).  Light element has also been used by Adams to represent the bare grooves that were left after digging soil for construction and thus makes the quarry distinct and observable to viewers. Composition as a principle has facilitated integration of objects of bare land and holes to the artwork, the difference in forms used in the art attracts and directs the attention of the audience to the most important parts of the composition. In addition, lines have been used to show the scratching effect of machines used in digging holes and thus defines certain sections of the landscape and the continuance of the landscape beyond the image (Art21).

Colorado Springs, Colorado

This is an artwork with the theme of negative effects associated with civilization and development as it depicts a suburban house fragmented with the roof chopped off. Closely a woman can be seen standing in the middle of the house and so the subject matter revolves around isolation, loneliness and illness that was associated with post-industrial development.

Historians have opined that post-industrial development was characterized by sub-urban housing development that greatly isolated people as they had to stay away from each other (Cameron 23). This led to the state of loneliness as it is believed that such kind of isolation ensured limited or no interaction between society members, this isolation created a feeling of loneliness and fear which had the potential of producing severe psychological injuries and illness as depicted by the woman standing all alone in the middle of the room.  This piece of work was selected to represent the negative effects of industrial development of suburbs and housing units. Modern development brought about an arrangement where people lived disjointedly and had limited connection with others. The work was informed by the desire in development and improvement in social well-being that existed in the 19th century at the time of industrial development (Art21). In respect to my personal experience and opinion, modern developments must always be accompanied by negative effects that sociologist have described as darkest side of growth and progress (Folts et al 34).

The composition has employed the use of design elements to distinguish various objects in the art and is combined with silent environment of winds and clouds affirming the theme of isolation (Art21).  Black and white colors have been used by the artist in the composition with black signifying the negative associations of development as depicted by black space occupied by the house (Art21).  On the other hand, white color has been used to provide a distinction of the woman and the house with the white space signifying loneliness associated with development. Likewise, light as an element has used to imply and reinforce the lonely environment around and above the roof while horizontal lines have been used to depict calmness and quiet environment. Moreover, vertical lines depict strong structures and arrangement brought about by industrial development; they also reinforce the idea of loneliness as shown by lack of movement by the woman.



The paper has discussed and analyzed artworks by Robert Adams who has portrayed the dominant theme of positive and negative effects of industrial development (Art21). The chosen themes have not enlightened and supported by beliefs of concentrating on the positives of industrial development since he has consistently presented negative impacts of development while my view is industrial and modern development brought about more good than bad like provision of good housing and transport facilities.


Works Cited

Art21. Artists.  Web. September 19 2016.

Bright, Susan. Art photography now. New York:

Cameron, C. Coming in from the cold public art history: The Practice of public art.

London/New York: Routledge, 2008.

Costello, Diarmuid, and Margaret Iversen. Photography After Conceptual Art. Chichester: Wiley-Blackwell, 2010. Internet resource.

Folts, James A, Fred C. Zwahlen, and Ronald P. Lovell. Handbook of Photography. Clifton Park, N.Y: Thomson/Delmar Learning, 2006. Print.

Miwon, K. One place after another, site specific art and locational identity. Cambridge,

MA/London: MIT Press. 2004


Fig1. Quarried Mesa Top, Pueblo County

Fig2. Colorado Spring