For fifty years, Robert Adams has made compelling, provocative, and highly influential photographs that show us the wonder and fragility of the American landscape, its inherent beauty, and the inadequacy of our response to it.

American Silence: The Photographs of Robert Adams examines Adams’s reverential act of looking at the world around him and the almost palpable silence of his photographs. It includes works that capture the sense of peace and harmony that the beauty of nature can instill in us, created through what Adams calls “the silence of light” of the American West (as seen on the prairie, in the woods, and by the ocean), as well as pictures that question our moral silence to the desecration of that beauty by consumerism, industrialization, and lack of environmental stewardship. The book features some 175 works from Adams’s most important projects and includes pictures of suburban sprawl, strip malls, highways, homes, and stores, as well as rivers and skies, the prairie and the ocean. While Adams’s photographs lament the ravages that have been inflicted on the land, they also pay homage to what remains.


Photographs by Robert Adams. Authored by Sarah Greenough. Afterword by Terry Tempest Williams.

Robert Adams (born in Orange, New Jersey, 1937) has documented the American West in photographs that “face the facts” of humanity’s imprint, yet offer hope of nature’s resilience. A recipient of a MacArthur Fellowship and two Guggenheim Fellowships, he is also a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters. Adams’ work has been shown widely, including in major exhibitions at the Yale University Art Gallery, New Haven, Connecticut; Philadelphia Museum of Art; and Museum of Modern Art, New York.

Sarah Greenough is senior and founding curator of the Department of Photographs at the National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC. She is also author of numerous books, including Looking In: Robert Frank’s The Americans (2009); The Altering Eye: Photographs from the National Gallery of Art (2015); and Sally Mann: A Thousand Crossings (2018). She is recipient of the 2019 Visionary Award from the Association of International Photography Art Dealers and the 2018 Curatorship Award for Excellence from the Royal Photographic Society.

Terry Tempest Williams is a crucial voice for raising ecological awareness and has authored numerous books, from the classic Refuge: An Unnatural History of Family and Place (1991) to the more recent The Hour of Land: A Personal Topography of America’s National Parks (2016) and Erosion: Essays of Undoing (2019). Her work has been published in the New Yorker, New York Times, Orion Magazine, and anthologies worldwide. Williams is writer-in-residence at the Harvard Divinity School, Cambridge, Massachusetts.

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