Food plays a significant role in all our lives, but for Edward Weston it was also a wellspring of creative nourishment. From the mid-1920s to the mid-1930s he found inspiration in fruits and vegetables, raising them from the ordinary to the extraordinary in a series of still lifes that rank among his most progressive and iconic works. The revelatory nature of these spare yet powerful images introduced a new mode of seeing that shocked and enthralled his contemporaries, exerting an attraction that remains undiminished to this day.
Weston sought to reduce his photographic subjects to their essence, a quest similarly reflected in his affinity for a streamlined lifestyle and restrained gastronomic preferences. Perhaps it was this predilection for simplicity in all things that, as Merle Armitage wrote, freed him to reveal the world in “its true content, its natural decorativeness or design, its most significant form.”
“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.)