Outdoor Theater, Colorado Springs, Colorado

Artist: Robert Adams (American, born Orange, New Jersey, 1937)

Date: 1968

Medium: Gelatin silver print

Dimensions: 15.0 x 15.2 cm (5 7/8 x 6 in. )

Classification: Photographs

Credit Line: Gift of Phyllis D. Massar, 1971

Accession Number: 1971.531.6

Rights and Reproduction: © Robert Adams


While teaching English at Colorado Collage and practicing photography as a hobby, Adams photographed residential areas around Colorado Springs at the request of the organizers of a conference on the western landscape. This experience further ignited his interest in the medium, and he continued to focus on the relationship between contemporary society and the natural world. This photograph-included in his first extended publication of images on the subject, The New West: Landscapes Along the Colorado Front Range (1974), an extraordinary summation of the current, frayed state of the country's natural environment-encapsulates the situation of the western landscape, as the pathetic space of a deserted drive-in abuts a majestic mountainscape just beyond. Robert Adams describes his photography as an attempt to reconcile his disappointment with the behavior of civilization toward nature with his heartfelt respect for the unique landscape of the west, a resource that has been visualized and celebrated throughout the history of photography, from Timothy O'Sullivan to Ansel Adams. However irreconcilable man and nature may appear today, by making images of the often unfortunate interaction of people with their environment, he forces us to reflect on the situation and, perhaps, to remedy it.