The Ansel Adams Fiat Lux collection, created between 1964-1967, consists of approximately 6,700 negatives and 600 photographs.
These photos were used in a book entitled
Fiat Lux: The University of California, written by art critic Nancy Newhall and published to commemorate the centennial of the University of California system.
Adams’ task was to show the “next hundred years” of the UC system.
Photographed over a span of three years and published in 1968, the Fiat Lux collection shows the University of California
at a particularly pivotal moment in time, as well as the projected future of the university. Post-World War Two scientific
advancements led to a newfound emphasis on innovation and research at the university, which is rendered visible in the work
of Ansel Adams. In the collection, particular attention is paid to UC Berkeley, but the focus is primarily on research and
architecture, rather than outspoken student life at a time when the university was the center of Vietnam War and free speech
protests. For the University of California, these photos served as tools of boosterism, highlighting serene student life,
academic research, and the university’s contributions to science, agriculture, culture, and the environment.
Ansel Adams was born in San Francisco in 1902 and became arguably the most famous photographer in the world. Adams made landscape
photographs of the American West, and took commercial jobs, such as the Fiat Lux project, to support his personal interests.