Theme/Style Pictorialism, Realism, still lifes, landscapes, nudes
Artistic Focus Edward Weston’s work justified for all time the identification of photographers as artists. Though straightforward, unmanipulated, and unretouched, his photographs are far more than recollections, with their geometric composition, amorphous qualities of reflected light and shadow, and reconciliation of opposites hard and soft, passive and assertive, figure and landscape, dark and light.
• Edward Henry Weston was born in Highland Park, Illinois, in 1886, spent much of his childhood in Chicago, and began photographing at the age of 16.
• Following the publication of his first photograph in 1906, Weston moved to California, where he worked as an itinerant photographer.
• Weston worked at portrait studios in Los Angeles, and married Flora Chandler in 1909. They had four children: Edward Chandler, Theodore Brett, Laurence Neil, and Cole.
• In 1911 Weston opened his own portrait studio in Tropico, California, and in 1912 met photographer Margrethe Mather, who became his studio assistant and most frequent model for the next ten years. Weston’s “Daybooks,” his journals chronicling his life and photographic development, began in 1915 and continued into the 1930s.
• After visiting an Ohio steel plant in 1922, Weston renounced his Pictorialism style with a new emphasis on abstract form. He traveled to New York City that same year, where he met Alfred Stieglitz, Paul Strand, Charles Sheeler, and Georgia O’Keeffe.
• After three years in Mexico City where he opened a photographic studio with his apprentice and lover Tina Modotti, Weston moved back to California in 1926 and began the work for which he is most famous: natural forms, close-ups, nudes, and landscapes.
• Moving to Carmel in 1929, Weston shot the first of many photographs of the scenery at Point Lobos and in 1932 became one of the founding members of Group f/64 with Ansel Adams, Willard Van Dyke, Imogen Cunningham and Sonya Noskowiak.
• Weston’s association with other artists, most notably the painter Henrietta Shore, inspired new work that studied the nature of womanhood, sexuality and the human form; and in 1936 Weston began his series of nudes and sand dunes, becoming the first photographer to receive a Guggenheim Fellowship for experimental work. He spent the next two years taking photographs in the West with his future wife Charis Wilson.
• Weston began having symptoms of Parkinson’s disease in 1946 and in 1948 shot his last photograph of Point Lobos.
• Weston’s many one-man exhibitions included the Los Angeles Museum of History, Science and Art in 1927; the de Young Memorial Museum in San Francisco in 1931; the Museum of Modern Art in New York in 1946 and 1975; the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York in 1972; the Oakland Museum in 1979; the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art in 1983; and the Huntington Library in San Marino, California, in 2003.
• Edward Weston passed away in Carmel, California, in 1958.
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references are available upon request.
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