Adelman has moved beyond the familiar clichés of most documentary photography into that rare sphere wherein technical ability and social vision combine to create a work of art.
Legendary photographer Bob Adelman has captured historic and artistic photographs for fifty years. His extraordinary visual documentation covers subjects ranging from the civil rights movement to the New York art scene, urban culture, social essays, politics, music, the South, and revealing portraits of personalities. An internationally-recognized photojournalist, Bob Adelman worked for LIFE, The New York Times Magazine, Newsweek, TIME, Esquire, Vanity Fair, London's Sunday Times Magazine, Paris Match and other major publications. He was a Guggenheim Fellow and National Endowment for the Arts Grantee, and the author of numerous books. Adelman’s images were widely exhibited worldwide during his lifetime, in institutions including the Museum of Modern Art, the Smithsonian, Getty Museum, High Museum, The Nelson-Atkins Museum, Boca Raton Museum of Art, Tate Modern and many others and are regarded as foremost documentaries of a crucial period of modern US history. The Adelman archive was acquired in 2017 by the Library of Congress.
NEW YORK ARTISTS
For decades, Bob Adelman directed his attention to the greatest American artists at the height of their success. The resulting body of work documents a generation of seminal artists through iconic photographs. Whether they are working in their studios, standing in the street, or looking for the next source of inspiration, each portrait reveals the artistic energy of the individual. Adelman’s photography serves as an important historical document revealing the intimate nature of an influential generation. The archive documents over fifty years of prominent and pioneering New York artists, including Andy Warhol, Roy Lichtenstein, James Rosenquist, Tom Wesselmann, Larry Rivers, Donald Judd, Jasper Johns, Robert Indiana, Marisol Escobar, Red Grooms, Jeff Koons, Adolph Gottlieb, Barnett Newman, Robert Rauschenberg, Dick Bellamy, Lucas Samaras, Jim Dine, David Hockney as well as influential art dealers who shifted the perception of how to sell art, such as Leo Castelli.
Starting with January 2018, WESTWOOD GALLERY NYC presents an exhibition focused on images of Andy Warhol, Roy Lichtenstein, James Rosenquist and Tom Wesselmann. The exhibition highlights forty photographs of the four influential artists who changed 20th century art, whom Adelman began photographing in the 1960s. This is the first New York exhibition of the photographs, in keeping with the gallery program of focusing on undiscovered bodies of work. The Estate of Mr. Adelman includes a very limited selection of signed prints, and the gallery is pleased to provide this exclusive opportunity for collectors.
Bob Adelman was compelled to photograph New York artists in the 1960s when he became interested in understanding the inner workings of the creative mind. The photographs on view provide an intimate, sometimes playful view of legendary artists and Adelman’s own ingenious sense in capturing their persona in the studio. They include scenes from Andy Warhol’s daily life at the Factory: Warhol on the infamous red couch, shopping at a nearby Gristedes for Brillo Boxes and Campbell Soup cans, socializing with his glamorous inner-circle at parties, filming, and posing with his flower paintings as well as the ‘The American Man’ suite. The photographs of Roy Lichtenstein span several decades and document the artist in his studio with his paintings and completing his iconic murals, such as: the fleeting 1963 “Greene Street Mural,” the permanent 1989 “Tel Aviv Museum of Art Mural,” and the collage for “Times Square Mural”. In 1983, Roy Lichtenstein painted a large scale mural, 96 feet across by 18.5 feet high on the wall of the legendary Leo Castelli Gallery located on Greene Street in SoHo. Bob Adelman documented Roy’s artwork, at Roy’s request. The mural only lived in Castelli’s gallery for one month, since it was created by Lichtenstein as a temporary gift to Leo with the decision to destroy it at the end of the exhibition. Bob Adelman’s photographs of the Greene Street Mural were dormant for over thirty years until in 2015 Adelman printed a first-time limited edition of The Greene Street Mural from the original photograph, signed by Adelman and endorsed by the Estate of Roy Lichtenstein. In 2015, Gagosian Gallery in Chelsea used Adelman’s images as one of the sources to re-created the painted mural, not for sale, to cover the same wall space as the original Lichtenstein mural and it was also destroyed at the end of the exhibition. James Rosenquist is documented with his paintings and murals, showing a completed “Big Bo” and the stages toward his 1980 “Star Thief” mural. Rosenquist is also captured in an iconic image: looking through a magnifying glass into Adelman’s camera. The photographs of Tom Wesselmann in 1966 portray his early years which illustrate the beginning of his career-defining artwork in his first studio at 54 Bond Street, as well as in Sidney Janis Gallery. Other photos of Wesselmann, 20 years later, depict the artist holding a steel-cut nude outline of his long-time model and studio assistant, Monica Serra, in 1988 at his later studio at 231 Bowery.
The New York Artists photographs are available as unique prints, signed by Bob Adelman. In 2019, the Bob Adelman Estate launched a limited edition of estate prints (editions of 50), available for sale exclusively at WESTWOOD GALLERY NYC.
Photographs of the struggle for civil rights,1960s
During the Civil Rights struggle of the 1960s, Bob Adelman’s passion for social justice fueled his belief that images revealing the situation — segregation, poverty, neglect — might effect change. By volunteering his services as a photographer for the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE) and the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), he captured events that re-shaped modern American history. Adelman photographed not only the moments of civil and social unrest, the marches and riots in New York, Washington D.C., and the deep South, Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream” speech and the protesters being water-hosed in Birmingham, Alabama, but also the fabric of everyday life. He traveled through rural areas and city ghettos to document the black community in sorrow and in joy, capturing images of successful musicians, sports figures, educators and one of the early African-American sheriffs elected under the Voting Rights Act in Alabama. These images of a transformative time are as poignant and heartening today as when Adelman first captured them.
In 2009 during Black History Month, WESTWOOD GALLERY NYC premiered an exhibition of Mr. Adelman’s historical photographs and hosted the launch of the book, MINE EYES HAVE SEEN: Bearing Witness to the Struggle for Civil Rights, photographs by Bob Adelman, essays by Charles Johnson, published by Time Inc. Home Entertainment.
Selected Publications by BOB ADELMAN
“I Have a Dream”: A 50th Year Testament to the March that Changed America, Southern Christian Leadership Conference and Bob Adelman
This Light of Ours: Activist Photographers of the Civil Rights Movement, Leslie G. Kelen
Remembering Martin Luther King. LIFE Great Photographers Series. Bob Adelman, Charles Johnson
Mine Eyes Have Seen. Bearing Witness to the Civil Rights Struggle. Bob Adelman, Charles Johnson. LIFE Great Photographers series
Gentleman of Leisure: A Year in the Life of a Pimp, Bob Adelman and Susan Hall
King: A Photobiography of Martin Luther King Jr., Charles Johnson, Bob Adelman, Robert Phelan
Visions of Liberty: The Bill of Rights for All American, Ira Glasser and Bob Adelman
Carver Country: The World of Raymond Carver, Raymond Carver and Bob Adelman
Roy Lichtenstein: Mural With Blue Brushstroke, Calvin Tomkins, Bob Adelman, Roy Lichtenstein
The Next America: The Decline and Rise of the United States, Michael Harrington and Bob Adelman
Manhattan, Jean-Claude Suares, Chris Casson Madden, Bob Adelman
Down Home: Camden, Alabama (A Prairie House Book), Bob Adelman
M.L.K.: The Journey of a King, Tonya Bolden, Bob Adelman, Harry N. Abrams
Ladies of the Night, Susan Hall and Bob Adelman
Martin Luther King. A Celebration in Word and Image
It Grows on You. A Hair Raising Survey of Human Plumage. Roy Blunt Jr. Photographs of Bob Adelman.
All images © Bob Adelman Estate