Gallery of Fine Art Photography - Atlanta GA


Bradford Washburn – Renaissance Man

Bradford Washburn was truly an American version of a 20th century Renaissance man. Cartographer, scientist, esteemed climber and explorer, museum director, and photographer were some of the pursuits at which he excelled. Among his many activities, Washburn spent 60 years making stunning aerial photographs of frozen vistas, most notably in Alaska.READ ENTIRE ARTICLE

Mount McKinley from North East over Muldrow Glacier, 1938

Mount McKinley from North East over Muldrow Glacier, 1938

“Washburn’s breathtaking photography shows mountains within their dynamic, violent surroundings: wind swirling off peaks, faraway glaciers glinting in the sun. He took many of these photos squeezed into the doorway of a small airplane, his 53-pound Fairchild K-6 camera in tow. Other times, he would pack it with him, his wiry frame trundling up towards the summit,” wrote Ryan Bradley in the National Geographic magazine.
Many photographers have stellar wilderness skills, but Washburn amassed at least 15 first ascents on Alaskan mountains between 1933-1955. An impressed Ansel Adams wrote, “Bradford Washburn is one of the very few people who have combined spectacular experience in the wilderness with equally spectacular achievements in the world of civilization. One never knows what next to expect from this roving genius of mind and mountains…”
Barnard Glacier, 1938

Barnard Glacier, 1938

Three of Washburn’s photogravures from Alaska are included in Ansel Adams: Before and After, an exhibition co-curated by the Booth Western Art Museum and Lumière. This show displays over 25 Adams prints that place the master photographer in the context of photographic history.
Viewers will learn about the pioneers who influenced a young Adams, witness Adams at the pinnacle of his powers, and see Adam’s influence running through the generation of photographers who followed him. The exhibition is now open and has been EXTENDED until April 3, 2016.
Mountaineering captivated Washburn from an early age. By the time he enrolled at Harvard, he had already been inducted into the prestigious New York Explorer’s Club and was a member of the French Alpine Club’s élite Groupe de Haute Montagne. In fact, the young Washburn hoped to pay his college fees through lecturing gigs.
Mount Huntington, 1978

Mount Huntington, 1978

Tireless and fearless, Washburn excelled at all the activities he undertook, but he was proudest of his work as the director of the New England Museum of Natural History. Washburn took what has been described an “uninspired collection” and turned it into a leading science museum now called the Museum of Science, Boston.
Under his leadership, the museum organized the first traveling planetarium in 1948. The 1950s ushered in 20 years of physical expansion, and the museum has not stopped evolving. Washburn was the director from 1939-1980.
Washburn passed away at the age of 96, in 2007 – he is said to have been mapping the grounds of his retirement home when he died – but his legacy lives on at the Bradford Washington American Mountaineering Museum (BWAMM) in Golden, Colorado. His work can also be seen online at his Lumière artist page.

All images: ©Bradford Washburn, courtesy

Posted in: a Deeper Look


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Photo Credits: Harold Feinstein - Comic Books in Barracks, Ft. Dix, 1952

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