“When an artist begins to sign his work it is indicative of a certain self-esteem, self-consciousness.”
Throughout his career Edward Weston reinvented his signature to align with his artistic evolution and the broader aesthetics of his times. As he progressed from a young Pictorialist “aesthete” in the 19-teens to an emerging Modernist in the 1920s and, finally, a consummate photographer in the mid-1920s through the 1940s, his signature transformed to reflect his self-image as an artist, the compositional character of his work and even, at the end, his deteriorating health. This post presents a representative sampling of signatures spanning the full range of Weston’s highly creative and productive life.
“The utterly famous photographer and the Grand Old Man of the American photographic world, Edward Weston…” — Shoichi Abe, Photo Art [Tokyo], November 1955
Weston’s association with progressive photographic movements was pivotal to his aesthetic growth in the 1920s, and brought him into the sphere of influential German artists and intellectuals. As a result, he is well represented in German and Austrian publications: fifteen known references in Germany and two in Austria.
Of paramount importance is Weston’s well-documented participation in the seminal 1929 Film und Foto exhibition in Stuttgart, Germany and its subsequent related venues. As illustrated above, his powerful portrait of Galvan Shooting appears in the catalogue published in conjunction with the February–March 1930 Vienna venue, Internationale Ausstellung: Film und Foto Wanderausstellung des Deutschen Werkbunds. Unlike the original Stuttgart exhibition, with twenty Weston photographs, Vienna included only eight.
“Edward Weston, the greatest American photographer, is currently exhibiting his works in Paris. This is the photographic event of the season!“—Daniel Maslcelt, “L’Art d’Edward Weston, Photo Cinéma, February 1950
Edward Weston’s name first appears in a publication from outside the United States in 1913, as a listing within an exhibition catalogue for the Toronto Camera Club’s Tenth Salon, 22nd Annual Exhibition. By 1958, the year of his death, this modest seed would flourish into an astonishing harvest of nearly 300 international references in books, newspapers, periodicals, and exhibition catalogues. The countries of origin include Austria, Belgium, Canada, China, Denmark, England, France, Germany, Holland, Palestine (pre-State of Israel), Italy, Japan, Mexico, Scotland, and Switzerland. Of these, the majority hail, in descending order, from Mexico, England and France—with Canada, Germany, Japan, and Holland not far behind. Of course, this merely reflects the published references we have located—there are certainly oh-so-many more left to discover. Discussing contributions from all of these nations would overwhelm any blog post. To begin, here is Part One of our two-part post presenting a tantalizing, representative sample. (Look for Part Two in February.)