Two Views: Photographs by Ansel Adams and Leonard Frank

Two Views

Two Views: Photographs by Ansel Adams and Leonard Frank examines the forced incarceration of citizens of Japanese descent who were living in the western coastal regions. Ansel Adams’s photographs reveal the harsh daily life and resilience of the 10,000 Japanese Americans incarcerated at the Manzanar War Relocation Center, while Leonard Frank’s images capture the movement…

2011 Nov 26 – 2012 Feb 05

Ansel Adams and Leonard Frank: Two Views

On loan from the Nikkei National Museum

After Japan’s attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, both the Canadian and American governments forced the relocation of citizens of Japanese ancestry from the coastal regionsof western North America. Nearly 120,000 Japanese Americans and 22,000 Japanese Canadians were affected.

Two Views showcases evocative images illustrating the experiences of Japanese Americans and Japanese Canadians, as captured by celebrated American photographer Ansel Adams and Canadian photographer Leonard Frank.

The Museum’s presentation of Two Views coincides with the 25th anniversary of the 1988 official apologies by Canada and the United States to people of Japanese ancestry for their treatment during and after the Second World War.

View JANM Photo Exhibition of Two Views

Ansel Adams

Ansel Adams (1902–1984) is well known as a landscape photographer who captured the American West in masterful images that blend drama and contemplation. From 1943 to 1944, angered by what he heard about the American government’s policy towards citizens of Japanese descent, Adams made a number of trips to Manzanar War Relocation Center. His powerful photographs captured the harsh daily life and resilience of the 10,000 Japanese Americans incarcerated there during World War II. When he offered the collection to the Library of Congress, Adams wrote, “The purpose of my work was to show how these people, suffering under a great injustice, and loss of property, businesses and professions, had overcome the sense of defeat and despair by building for themselves a vital community in an arid (but magnificent) environment.”

Leonard Frank

Born in Berne, Germany, Leonard Frank (1870–1944) moved to Vancouver in 1917 and quickly became the leading commercial/industrial photographer in the city. His body of work captures the growth of industries in Vancouver and British Columbia between the world wars. In 1942, Frank was hired by the BC Security Commission to document the removal of Canadians of Japanese descent from the coast of British Columbia. He visited temporary holding areas as well as several camps in the interior of BC. The resulting photographs, which tend to focus on buildings and structures rather than individual people, are both stark and shocking, depicting the movement of humans within bureaucratic systems. 

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