Cameron, Julia M.
Coburn, Alvin L.
Talbot,William H. Fox
Fine Art, Landscape, Portraiture
Biography: Edward Weston was born in 1886 in Highland
Park, Illinois. When he was sixteen years old his father gave
him a Kodak Bulls-Eye #2 camera and he began to photograph at
his aunt's farm and in Chicago parks.
In 1903 Weston first had his photographs exhibited at the Chicago
Art Institute. Soon after the San Francisco earthquake and fire
on April 19, 1906, Weston came to California to work as a surveyor
for San Pedro, Los Angeles and Salt Lake Railroad. For a short
while Weston returned to Chicago and attended the Illinois College
of Photography, but came back to California to live in 1908 where
he became a founding member of the Camera Pictorialists of Los
He married Flora Chandler in 1909 and they soon gave birth to
two sons: Edward Chandler Weston, in 1910 and Theodore Brett Weston
in 1911. Weston had his own portrait studio in Tropico, California
and also began to have articles published in magazines such as
American Photography, Photo Era and Photo-Miniature where his
article entitled "Weston's Methods" on unconventional
portraiture appeared in September, 1917. Weston's third son, Laurence
Neil Weston, was born in 1916 and his fourth, Cole Weston, in
1919. Soon after Weston met Tina Modotti which marked the starting
point of their long relationship, photographic collaborations
in Mexico and later much publicized love affair. Modotti's husband,
a political radical in Mexico, died in 1922. That same year Weston
traveled to Ohio to visit his sister and there took photographs
of the Armco Steel Plant. From Ohio he went to New York and met
Alfred Stieglitz, Paul Strand, Charles Sheeler and Georgia O'Keefe.
At this time Weston renounced Pictorialism and began a period
of transition, self-analysis and self-discipline while making
voyages to Mexico, often with Modotti and one of his sons. Some
of the photographs that he and Modotti made in Mexico were published
in Anita Brenner's book Idols Behind Altars.
Weston began photographing shells, vegetables and nudes in 1927.
Weston kept very detailed journals or "Day Books" of
his daily activities, thoughts, ideas and conversations. His first
publication of these writings "From My Day Book" appeared
in 1928 - others were published after his death. Two years later
he had his first New York exhibit at Alma Reed's Delphic Studios
Gallery and later exhibited at Harvard Society of Contemporary
Arts with Walker Evans, Eugene Atget, Sheeler, Stieglitz, Modotti
and others. Weston was a Charter member of the "Group f/64"
that was started in 1932 and included Ansel Adams, Imogen Cunningham,
Consuelo Kanaga and others. They chose this optical term because
they habitually set their lenses to that aperture to secure maximum
image sharpness of both foreground and distance.
Weston went even further toward photographic purity in 1934 when
he resolved to make only unretouched portraits. Even though several
large exhibitions followed, he was still of modest means and in
1935 initiated the "Edward Weston Print of the Month Club"
offering photographs at $10 each. In 1937 he was the first photographer
to be awarded a Guggenheim fellowship taking his assistant Charis
Wilson along on his travels whom he married the next year. In
1940 the book California and the West was published with text
by Charis and photographs by Edward. The same year he participated
in the U.S. Camera Yosemite Photographic Forum with Ansel Adams
and Dorthea Lange. In 1941 he was commissioned by Limited Editions
Club to illustrate a new edition of Walt Whitman's Leaves of Grass.
Weston started experiencing symptoms of Parkinson's disease in
1946 and in 1948 made his last photographs at Point Lobos. In
1952 his Fiftieth Anniversary Portfolio was published with his
images printed by Brett. In 1955 Weston selected several of what
he called "Project Prints" and began having Brett, Cole
and Dody Warren print them under his supervision. Lou Stoumen
released his film The Naked Eye in 1956 of which he used several
of Weston's print as well as footage of Weston himself. Edward
Weston died at home on January 1, 1958.
More on Edward Weston:
'Official site of Edward Weston's Photography. Exhaustive index
of Weston's images, as well as Numerous Citations of his work.
- Edward Weston
Several examples of Weston's work.
Weston - Photography and Modernism
Museum of Fine arts in Boston Online Exhibit of Weston's work.
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