About the Artist Edward Weston Collection
Born in Illinois, America in 1886, Weston enjoyed his formative years living in Chicago, where he attended Oakland Grammar School and was said to be a model student. It wasn’t until 16 that Weston first picked up a camera, although in fairness they were hardly commonplace at the time; and in his case it was a gift from his father. The Bull’s Eye 2 camera gave Weston licence to roam and explore like never before, as now he could seek to capture everything he bore witness to whilst out and about. Those early images caught on film depicted the parks of Chicago as well as his aunt’s farm.
Works By Edward Weston Collection
Studio Shot, 1948
Polka Dot Umbrella, Tobay Beach, 1949
Phone Call, North Hollywood, 1962
Warming Up, Santa Monica Beach, 1962
Driftwood, Tobay Beach, 1949
Lost in Thought, Santa Monica Beach, 1962
Beach Towel, Santa Monica Beach, 1962
Portfolio of 8 Editions
Just four years later – and at the young age of 20 years – Weston upped sticks and relocated to California; following the publication of his very first photograph in the Camera and Darkroom periodical in 1906.
After a brief stint employed as a surveyor for San Pedro, Los Angeles and Salt Lake Railroad it wasn’t long before Weston returned to his new love, photography, and in a freelance capacity resorted to door-to-door enquiries, offering to take pictures of anything and everything found on the other side of those strangers/potential client’s doors, including children, pets and, bizarrely, funerals even. Despite Weston’s enthusiasm for his art and sheer, bloody-mindedness in attempting to gain a foothold in an emerging creative marketplace, he appreciated that he required formal training if he was ever to progress in this line. So in 1908 Weston packed his bags and returned to Illinois where he enrolled at the city’s College of Photography situated in Effingham. Completing the prescribed 12-month course in a mere 6 months, a more clued up and street-savvy Weston headed back to California to find fame and fortune through his beloved photography.
Settling in Los Angeles, Weston found work as a retoucher at the George Steckel Portrait Studio, before moving on to the Louis A Mojoiner Portrait Studio in 1909 in the guise of a photographer. Whilst here Weston demonstrated remarkable abilities with lighting and posing, and after just two years learning his trade there began ploughing his own photographic furrows culminating in the opening of his very own portrait studio located in Tropico, California. Little did he know it at that stage, but this was set to be his operational base – and a hugely successful one at that – for the following two decades. Concentrating on and building a rapidly soaring reputation in the industry for his soft-focus, pictorial style pictures, Weston soon began collecting a number of professional awards; especially in the more specialised area of high key portraiture and modern dance studies. With the recognition, features and articles followed, as Weston’s name started appearing in magazines such as American Photography, Photo Era and Photo Miniature, both as an interviewee and as a self-publicist offering advice and guidance to amateur photographers.
In 1912 Weston employed fellow photographer, Margrethe Mather as his studio assistant, and over the next decade she also became his most frequently used life model who it’s said, held great sway over her boss. Weston himself however would later refer to her as ‘the first important woman in my life’. In 1922, and in the direct aftermath of visiting the ARMCO steel plant in Middletown, Ohio, Weston’s photo’s suddenly came into their own so to speak; whilst this whole juncture marked a turning point in Weston’s hitherto photographic career and fortunes. It was then and there that Weston renounced his pictorialism style and instead immersed himself in the abstract form, coupled with a sharper resolution of detail it was said. The resultant industrial-forged images were unpretentious and rooted in physical substance, and moved Weston to later write; “The camera should be used for a recording of life, for rendering the very substance and quintessence of the thing itself, whether it be polished steel or palpitating flesh.”
That same year Weston met the acquaintance of acclaimed and long-established photographers, Alfred Stieglitz, Paul Strand, Charles Sheeler and Georgia O’Keeffe in New York City, whilst a year on he moved again, this time to Mexico City whereby he opened a new photographic studio with his apprentice and lover Tina Modotti. Many important portraits and nudes were taken during Weston’s time in Mexico, and it was in acknowledgement of the imagery Weston visually composed during this next chapter in his life that famous artists including Diego Rivera, David Siqueiros, and Jose Orozco hailed Weston as the master of 20th century art. In 1926 Weston returned to his native North America, and put down his roots once again in California where he entered the most prolific and fame-enticing phase of his professional photographic career.
Natural forms, close-ups, nudes and landscapes received Weston’s creative eye, and over the next three years or so Weston created a series of fascinating and previously unprecedented close-ups of a seemingly eclectic mix of inanimate objects; from seashells and peppers to halved cabbages, all the while fixated with identifying and drawing out the rich textures and multi-layered illustrative appeal of their sculpture-like forms. This spurred Weston on to bigger and graphically better muses, and travelling to Carmel in 1929 he set about capturing the first of a compendium of photographs of rocks and trees at Point Lobos.
It was around this time when, along with Ansel Adams, Willard Van Dyke, Imogen Cunningham and Sonya Noskowiak that Weston founded Group f/64; an optical reference which when technically adhered to allowed the aperture to secure the maximum image sharpness of both foreground and background once their lenses had been set to this specific ratio. Again, and it was in this period that Weston began his nudes and sand dunes series, shot in Oceano, California which are believed by many to be amongst his finest works; and in 1936 he was bestowed with the honour of being the very first photographer to receive a Guggenheim Fellowship for experimental work. This again proved the catalyst for even more inspiration from Weston’s lens, and in 1941 his images provided the illustrative content for a new edition of Walt Whitman’s ‘Leaves of Grass’.
Sadly in 1946 Weston started showing the initial symptoms of Parkinson’s Disease, and just two years later shot what was to be his last photograph of his beloved Point Lobos. Over the next decade Weston’s health and moreover, his mobility deteriorated, and so he instructed his two sons to oversee some new printmaking. In 1952 Weston’s 50th anniversary portfolio was published thanks to his industrious sons, whilst what followed became an even larger printing project, which took place between1952 and 1955. These became known as the Project Prints, and manifest themselves as a series of 8 -10 prints from 832 negatives considered Weston’s lifetime best. The Smithsonian Institution held the show, entitled ‘The World of Edward Weston’ in 1956, paying tribute to his remarkable accomplishments in American photography.
Weston died on January 1, 1958 at his home, Wildcat Hill, in Carmel, California and his ashes were scattered into the Pacific Ocean at Pebbly Beach at Point Lobos.