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Indepth Arts News:

"Edward Weston: Life Work"
2003-11-15 until 2001-01-11
Amon Carter Museum
Fort Worth, TX, USA

One of the most original and renowned photographers of the 20th century, Edward Weston (1886–1958) is the focus of a 99-image retrospective exhibition entitled “Edward Weston: Life Work.” Containing outstanding vintage prints from all phases of Weston’s five-decade career, “Edward Weston: Life Work” will be on view from November 15, 2003, through January 11, 2004, at the Amon Carter Museum.

Weston moved to California in 1906 from Illinois and began to earn his living in photography by doing house-to-house portraiture. In 1911 he opened a studio in Glendale taking photographs in the pictorial style, but by 1922 he had reached a turning point in his work. In that year, on a trip back to the Midwest he photographed the Armco Steel plant in Ohio using a direct, sharply focused, strongly composed style. Weston’s reputation began to be established as early as 1925, but his photographs never sold well. In 1937 he received the first Guggenheim Fellowship ever awarded a photographer, which gave him the financial freedom to travel and photograph in California, Oregon, Washington, and the Southwest.

Fame came to Weston late in life. He was the subject of a film, “The Photographer” (1948), made by his friend and fellow member of Group F/64, Willard Van Dyke. In 1946 the Museum of Modern Art in New York mounted a major exhibition of Weston’s photographs. In his last years, his cabin near Carmel, Calif., became a mecca for serious photographers and collectors.

           Throughout the exhibition, previously unpublished masterpieces are interspersed with Weston’s well-known signature images. The rare works on view include a striking 1909 outdoor pictorialist study of Weston’s wife, Flora, perhaps his first nude; a 1907 landscape featuring a cow skull in the Mojave Desert; and a smoky view of the Chicago River harbor from 1916 that pays homage to earlier photographers Alvin Langdon Coburn and Alfred Stieglitz. The latter image anticipates the urban modernism Weston famously captured in his seminal photograph “Armco Steel, Ohio” (1922), which marked his final break from the confines of pictorialism and studio work to the emergence of a sharply focused style. In the mid-1920s, Weston unleashed his newly trimmed-down approach in Mexico with works such as “Tina Reciting” (1924) and “Excusado” (1926). Upon his return to Glendale in 1927, Weston continued to experiment with pure form and disconcerting scale shifts in his long exposures of shells, peppers, mushrooms, radishes and kelp. These studies led naturally into a remarkable set of sculptural nudes done in 1933 and 1934.

Subsequently, Weston turned to the open landscape. This exhibition includes an important suite of six studies made near Oceano, Calif., from 1934 to 1946. In addition to landscapes and studies of desert detritus, portraits of prominent artistic and literary figures are well represented. The chronological survey concludes with Weston’s consummate final photograph, made in 1948 and nicknamed “The ‘Dody Rocks,’ Point Lobos (‘Something out of Nothing’).”

This exhibition is drawn from the private collection of Michael Mattis and Judith Hochberg. Most of the works were acquired from members of the Weston family. These include a large collection from his daughter-in-law Dody Weston Thompson as well as a Weston family album incorporating rare early self-portraits and landscapes.

“Edward Weston: Life Work” is organized and circulated by Curatorial Assistance Traveling Exhibitions, Los Angeles. All works courtesy of the Michael Mattis and Judith Hochberg Collection. Admission to the exhibition is free.

Edward Weston (1886–1958)
Pepper No. 30, 1930
Gelatin silver print
Courtesy of the Michael Mattis
and Judith Hochberg Collection
Copyright 1981, CCP, Arizona, Board of Regents

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