Magazine article USA TODAY

Edward Weston: Pictorialist Pioneer

Magazine article USA TODAY

Edward Weston: Pictorialist Pioneer

Article excerpt

EDWARD WESTON pioneered a vision that revealed the stark essence f beauty in natural form. Setting aside the soft focus lenses and ideologies used by pictorialist photographers in the early part of the 20th century to romanticize or create metaphor in their work, he began isolating ordinary objects such as vegetables, shells, and the human body, rendering them in sharply focused detail. His style was straightforward and his techniques meticulous. Through his genius and the exquisite transformation of what he previsualized in the ground glass of his camera, to file image he captured in platinum or silver salts, he created a new ideal in the form of the absolute real. Weston's photographic vision, his focused lifestyle, and passionate writings represent major contributions to photography and its history. A pioneer of American Realism, his influence can be traced worldwide and his photographs continue to inspire those who view them today.

Weston was born in 1886 in Highland Park, III. He received his first camera from his father when be was 16, a Kodak Bulls-Eye #2, and by 1903, he was exhibiting at the Art Institute of Chicago. In 1906, Weston left for California where he worked as a railroad surveyor; but he returned to Chicago and attended the Illinois College of Photography. In 1908, he moved back to California, where he became a founding member of the Camera Pictorialists of Los Angeles.

In 1909, he married Flora Chandler, and the couple quickly had two sons: Edward Chandler in 1910 and Theodore Brett in 1911. He established his own portrait studio in Tropico, Calif, and began publishing articles in American Photography, Photo Era, and Photo-Miniature. It was at this time that Weston encountered Margrethe Mather, who became a major influence in his life. Weston's third son, Laurence Neil, was born in 1916, and his fourth, Cole, in 1919. Soon after, Weston met Tina Modotti and the two began a lung relationship. He traveled to Ohio and New York, befriending Paul Strand, Charles Sheeler, Alfred Stieglitz, and Georgia O'Keeffe. At this time, Weston renounced Pictorialism and began a period of transition and self-analysis, spending most of 1923 26 in Mexico with Modotti, who learned photography from him. …

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