American Silence:
The Photographs of Robert Adams

For 50 years, Robert Adams (born 1937) has made compelling, provocative, and highly influential photographs that show 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 celebrates the art of this seminal American photographer and explores the reverential way he looks at the world around him and the almost palpable silence of his work. Capturing the sense of peace and harmony created through what Adams calls “the silence of light” that can be seen on the prairie, in the woods, and by the ocean, American Silence features some 175 pictures from 1965 to 2015. Other images on view question our moral silence to the desecration of that beauty by consumerism, industrialization, and lack of environmental stewardship. Divided into three sections—The Gift, Our Response, and Tenancy—the exhibition includes works from not only the artist’s most important projects but also lesser-known ones that depict suburban sprawl, strip malls, highways, homes, and stores, as well as rivers, skies, the prairie, and the ocean. While these photographs lament the ravages that have been inflicted on the land, they also pay homage to what remains.

Organized in cooperation with the artist, the exhibition is accompanied by a fully-illustrated, 332-page catalogue published by the National Gallery of Art and Aperture, New York. The exhibition is curated by Sarah Greenough, senior curator and head of the department of photographs, National Gallery of Art.

This exhibition is organized by the National Gallery of Art, Washington. The exhibition and catalog are made possible through the leadership support of the Trellis Fund and a generous gift from Jane P. Watkins. The exhibition is also made possible in part by The Shared Earth Foundation. Additional support is provided by Randi and Bob Fisher, Wes and Kate Mitchell, Nion McEvoy, Greg and Aline Gooding, and the James D. and Kathryn K. Steele Fund for Photography.

Lead Sponsor

Wayne L. Prim Foundation

Major Sponsors

The Bretzlaff Foundation


Blanchard, Krasner & French | Angela and Mark Krasner
Barbara and Tad Danz
Kathryn A. Hall and Laurel Trust Company
Garrett and Jenny Sutton | Corporate Direct

Supporting Sponsors

Tammy and Michael Dermody