It is absolutely impossible to judge Mortensen, his admirers, followers and critics, from today's vantage point. I wrote a longish (but brilliant, of course !) article about that in P-F #3. When I have a moment, I'll re-read it & perhaps post some relevant info. But a quick scan picks up this=====================:
Almost daily the bodies of artists more brilliant than M. fall by the wayside. "Died in poverty" could be cast as a slug for art-and-
photo-history books. In America's own art form, the comics, more pioneers vanished than were saved. The creator of Superman was old and "living in poverty" until public pressure forced Superman Corp. to grant him a stipend. Daumier lived out his life on Corot's charity... Jack Levine has described his pain when Abstract Expressionism made him a non-person.....[tho now in his 90s, he's reclaimed some position]... etc. etc., BUT
On Sun, 9 Nov 2008, Richard Vallon Jr. wrote:
I think Mortensen is even today greatly underappreciated... it has been noted that Ansel Adams tried to track down and destroy all of his work in any significant photo collections."It has been noted" .... by whom? FWIW I note that a lot of "it has been noted's" in this case came from A.D. Coleman.
In Post-Factory #5, I published a "debate" with A.D. Coleman, citing the claims he made and the more or less total lack of evidence, in fact info to the contrary that the relevant literature showed. Coleman had a vendetta against a number of folks (including John Szarkowski of MoMA), but the one against Beaumont Newhall, Ansel Adams & Co for "omitting Mortensen from the history of photography" was the only one that really got traction -- the reason, as I believe I made reasonably clear, being that what was once grotesque kitsch had by aging become charming "period art" in the same way, incidentally, that the bathtubs with legs and the Tiffany lamps that were once consigned to the dump, became valuable "antiques."
It's not possible for me at this point in time, I shouldn't even be here now, but if someone has P-F #5 and can post that material (pages 20 to 24) I think it would, let's, say illuminate a lot of claims & speculation with, among other, words directly from Coleman.