November 5, 2004 - January 9, 2005
Edward Weston: Life Work is a 100-image survey of this great American artist, containing an outstanding grouping of vintage prints from all phases of Weston's five-decade career. The exhibition is drawn from the significant private collection of Michael Mattis and Judith Hochberg, who acquired most of the photos from members of the Weston family. Previously unpublished masterpieces are interspersed with well-known signature images. A striking 1909 outdoor Pictorialist study of his wife Flora is perhaps Weston's first nude. A 1907 landscape features a cow skull in the Mojave desert and presages by thirty years his later interest in death in the desert. A smoky view of the Chicago River harbor, from 1916, pays homage to Coburn and Stieglitz, and anticipates the urban modernism famously captured by Steel: Armco, Middletown, Ohio, 1922, which marked Weston's final break from the confines of Pictorialism and studio work, and the emergence of a sharply focused style.
In the mid-1920s Weston unleashed his newly trimmed-down approach in Mexico with Tina Reciting, Heaped Black Ollas, and Excusado. 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 segue naturally into a remarkable set of sculptural nudes done in 1933 and 1934.
Subsequently, Weston pulled back and loosened his style as he turned to the open landscape. This exhibit includes an important suite of six dune studies made near Oceano, California from 1934 to 1946, the last being a rare example of Weston's experimental color work. In addition to landscapes and studies of desert detritus made with the support of a Guggenheim grant, portraits of prominent artistic and literary figures are also well represented. The chronological survey concludes with Weston's consummate final photograph, nicknamed The Dody Rocks, 1948.