The Hasselblad award was presented for the second time on Wednesday 18 November 1981. The award winner, Ansel Adams, Carmel, USA, received the prize from His Majesty King Carl XVI Gustaf and Her Majesty Queen Silvia, at a ceremony at the Museum of Modern Art in New York. The award sum was USD 20,000. In conjunction with the ceremony an exhibit of the award winner's photographs was displayed at the New York Museum of Modern Art.
No citation was made in 1981. Below is a summary of the press release and the statement about Ansel Adams published in the Hasselblad Center's exhibition catalogue "Nine Masters of Photography".
Widely known and published, Ansel Adams is a recognized and honored master of the pure landscape school of photography. With clarity and precision, he visualized the spectacular vistas and rich native details of the Western United States. In 1942 Ansel Adams developed the "zone system" which employs careful sensitometric control and adjustments of exposure and development. As an artist, a teacher, and a master of photographic technique, Ansel Adams' influence has been felt by successive generations of photographers from all over the world.