Bradford Washburn made history photographing and charting Alaska’s iconic landforms

Alaska from Above: The Art of Bradford Washburn on view April 7, 2023 through February 11, 2024

April 3, 2023

ANCHORAGE, Alaska – Bradford Washburn (1911–2007) was one of the leading American mountaineers in the 1920s through the 1950s, making first ascents and mapping new routes on many major Alaska peaks, often with his wife, Barbara Washburn, the first woman to summit Denali.

He pioneered aerial photography while surveying Denali in the 1930s. This exhibition presents a selection of his black and white photographs, taken between 1930 and 1979 in the Coast Range, Alaska Range, the Chugach and St. Elias Mountains. It also includes archival images and films documenting his photographic process and mountaineering expeditions.

Washburn's photographic work incorporated aerial documentation of the landscape, as well as abstracted views of the stark contrast between shadowed abyss and sunlit snow. He daringly took many of his iconic Alaska images from an open doorway of a plane at high altitude using a large-format camera. The photographs on view in this exhibition demonstrate his ongoing fascination with the beauty of Alaska’s peaks and glaciers.

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