Edward Weston - Cabbage Leaf - 1931 - Gelatin Silver Print - 1968.7.2
2) Edward Henry Weston was born March 24, 1886 in Highland Park, Illinois. He began photographing at the age of sixteen after receiving a Bull's Eye #2 camera from his father. Weston's first photographs captured the parks of Chicago and his aunt's farm. In 1906, following the publication of his first photographs in Camera and Darkroom, Weston moved to California. After working briefly as a surveyor for a number of railroad companies, he began working as an itinerant photographer. He peddaled his wares from door to door photographing children, pets and funerals. Eventually he returned to the Midwest in 1908 for formal study at the Illinois College of Photography. He completed a 12 month course in 6 months and returned to California. In Los Angeles he was employed as a retoucher at the George Steckel Portrait Studio. He would later move on to work at the Louis A. Mojoiner Portrait Studio as a photographer. His keen abilities in lighting and posing were undeniable. Weston married his first wife, Flora Chandler in 1909. Together they had four sons; Edward Chandler, Theodore, Laurence, and Cole. In 1911, Weston opened his own studio in Tropico, California. This would be his base of operation for two decades. Weston became successful working in soft-focus, pictorial style; winning numerous salons and professional awards. Articles about his work were published in magazines like American Photography, Photo Era, and Photo Miniature. In 1912, weston met photographer Margrethe Mather in his Tropico studio. Mather became his studio assistant and most frequent model for the next decade. Mather had a rather strong influence on Weston. Weston began keeping journals in 1915 that came to be known as his "Daybooks." They would chronicle his life and photographic development into the 1930's. In 1922 Weston visited the ARMCO Steel Plant in Middletown. Ohio. The photographs he took there would mark a turning point in his career. It was during this period that he renounced his Pictorialism style with a new emphasis on abstract form and sharper resolution of detail. In that same year, weston traveled to New York City where he met Alfred Stieglitz, Paul Strand, Charles Sheeler, and Georgia O'Keefe. In 1923, weston moved to Mexico City where he opened a photographic studio with his apprentice and lover Tina Modotti. Many important portraits and nudes were taken during Weson's time in Mexico. In 1926, weston relocated back to California and began the work for which he is most famous for; natural forms, close-ups, nudes, and landscapes. Between 1927 and 1930, Weston made a series of monumental close-ups of seashells, peppers, and halved cabbages, bringing out hte rich textures of their sculptur-like forms. Weston moved to Carmel, California in 1929 and shot the first of many photographs of rocks and trees at Point Lobos, California. Weston became one of the founding members of Group f/64 in 1932 with Ansel Adams and Imogen Cunningham. In 1936, Weston began his infamous series of nudes and sand dunes in Oceano, California with his assistant, model, and lover Charis Wilson. Weston became the first photographer to receive the Guggenheim Fellowship for experimental work in 1936. Following the receipt of this fellowship Weston and Charis spent the next two years taking photographs in the West and Southwest. In 1941, weston used photographs of the East and South for a new edition of Walt Whitman's LEAVES OF GRASS. Weston began experiencing symptoms of Parkinson's disease in 1946 and in 1948 shot his last photographs of Point Lobos. Over the next ten years, Weston supervised the printing of his prints by his sons, Brett and Cole. Weston died on January 1, 1958 at his home in Carmel, Claifornia.
3) This cabbage leaf is typical of Weston’s vision, and typically beautiful. Isolated against a black background, it is a lava flow surging down a volcano. Weston worked in a manner that he believed "truthfully represented natural objects [without] trick, device or subterfuge." Weston is best known for his landscape photographs, his nudes, and a highly original series of close-up, organic forms such as shells, eggplants, and cabbages.