Edward Weston: One Hundred Twenty-five Photographs

Ammo Books, $250.00 (262p), ISBN-10: 1934429570 / ISBN-13: 978-1934429570
Edited by Steve Crist 

Published to mark the 125th year after Edward Weston’s birth, this large, lavish book reproduces a generous selection of the most important work of this wonderful and canonical photographer. Editor Steve Crist has curated Weston’s vast trove of beautiful photos down to 125 shots, and complements each shot with illuminating excerpts from Weston’s journals and letters.

Weston shot in monochrome on a large format film camera, and here the images’ tonal range, detail, and subtlety are artfully reproduced on large (17.4" x 14.3") sheets of heavy stock. Arranged chronologically, the pictures show Weston’s evolution from a near Pictorialist style (i.e. hazy, glowing, painterly effects around his nudes) toward so-called 'straight photography' where the emphasis is more on sharply rendered, precisely lit images that showcase carefully observed lines, shapes, textures, and volumes. On display in this collection are a range of genres - nudes, studio still-lifes, landscapes, and texture studies, including his most iconic images like 'Pepper #30,' 'Nude of Tina Modotti (1923),' and 'Arrangement of Shell & Rocks.' 

Photograph by Edward Weston
Copyright: Collection Center for Creative Photography
© 1981 Arizona Board of Regents/Courtesy of www.ammobooks.com

Portraiture was also major genre for Weston, and in addition to capturing many of his family and various lovers over the years, he also shot some of the artistic luminaries with whom he was friendly. Vivid shots of Frida Kahlo, Diego Rivera, Ansel Adams (holding not a large format camera but a Contax rangefinder!), and Imogen Cunningham are full of personality but never at the expense of careful and rigorous form. 

The collection calls attention to the way Weston pulled off a sort of photographic hat trick: he created artistic and highly evocative images that also manage a near scientific recording of what was in front of the lens. Even while revealing their actual form, he framed and lit his subjects so that their sensuous beauty is dreamily reminiscent of multiple other pleasing shapes - torsos resemble sculptures, peppers seem like human bodies in motion, desert hills and even cabbage leaves conjure the voluptuous curves of a woman.

Photograph by Edward Weston
Copyright: Collection Center for Creative Photography
© 1981 Arizona Board of Regents/Courtesy of www.ammobooks.com

Those who want to familiarize themselves with the artist will find attractive and more affordable Weston collections (I'd recommend taking a look at In Focus: Edward Weston and Edward Weston's Book of Nudes) that offer opportunities to explore his massive achievements. But for well-heeled fans of a true photographic master, this beautifully printed limited edition should have an exalted place on the coffee table.

One Hundred Twenty-five Photographs is available on Amazon.com.


Adam Koplan is head of the Performance Department at the Dreamyard Project which brings arts programs to NYC schools. He is also Artistic Director of The Flying Carpet Theatre Co.
Follow him on Twitter @FlyingCarpetNYC  

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions held by dpreview.com or any affiliated companies.

Comments

Total comments: 23
HYSto
By HYSto (Jan 2, 2013)

Many years ago I saw a good print of Weston's artichoke (1930) and a little later, his sell (1927). I have them in my heart up to now.

0 upvotes
afsheenaziz
By afsheenaziz (Jul 18, 2012)

It was a great place to work as every so often folks would stop in that actully knew Weston. .Ultimately I do strongly recommend the book, but at this price, I also agree with Munro Harrap. If at all possible, try to check out a real copy and see if it's to your taste. If that is impossible, I might contact your bookseller and confirm their return policy.I agree with one purchaser - try to see this book before buying.

0 upvotes
adamkoplan
By adamkoplan (Feb 21, 2012)

Hi Folks. Thanks for all the thoughtful comments. I was especially moved (largely to jealousy) by the story of someone scoring original prints for as little as $10.00! I also wanted to address the comments about the quality of the printing. I think this is an instance where quality is a very relative term. Without question, the copy I reviewed had reproductions that, in capturing a range of subtle tones, far exceeded the versions in other, less expensive Weston books I had around. Certainly when compared to museum prints, though, the experience is not as visually rich. Ultimately I do strongly recommend the book, but at this price, I also agree with Munro Harrap. If at all possible, try to check out a real copy and see if it's to your taste. If that is impossible, I might contact your bookseller and confirm their return policy.

0 upvotes
munro harrap
By munro harrap (Feb 20, 2012)

You need to see any photobook for real, and have it in your hands. Printing ruins work. I have books of photos I know are good work , but although expensive when purchased, they are really badly printed. You have to have the book in your hands in person, not online, to be able to judge whether, compared to a photographers own prints, its OK. I have books of John Blakemore's and Weston's, and Strand's and Cartier-Bresson's and Brandt's, that cost a fortune but give no idea at all of the work because they are so badly printed.

I would however love to know WHY Brett Weston destroyed all his negs years ago. I'm sure somebody knows, thanks.

0 upvotes
pentaxus
By pentaxus (Feb 27, 2012)

A friend/employee of mine was a friend of Brett Weston. He and Brett started talking one evening about how some of the Ansel Adams reprints were not that good. Things evolved to " you don't want that to happen to your stuff do you" and then the decision to destroy the negs so that no bad prints could be made. They had a negative burning party.

0 upvotes
eric burrows
By eric burrows (Feb 18, 2012)

I would be prepared to spring the money for this book but as Father Anderson says the pans on Amazon are reasoned and studied. It would have been helpful if Adam Koplans article had commented on the technical production of the book as well as the content. Living on the bottom of the world I can't see before buying so I won't be buying.

0 upvotes
drewkal
By drewkal (Feb 18, 2012)

I have 10 of Edward's photographs on my walls right now, and I still want this book. 7 0f Brett's also, and a 1946 Kodachrome, printed on Cibachrome, portrait of Edward on the Carmel seaside, shot by a passed friend of mine, Harry Mazur. Harry carried Edward's camera around at the time, as Edward wasn't well. Ive sent one to Cara Weston, and one to a fellow collector. It's, as far as I know the only color portrait of Edward working on his photography.

0 upvotes
Father Anderson
By Father Anderson (Feb 16, 2012)

The pans on Amazon [http://www.amazon.com/Edward-Weston-Hundred-Twenty-five-Photographs/product-reviews/1934429570/ref=sr_1_1_cm_cr_acr_txt?ie=UTF8&showViewpoints=1]
seem much more reasoned and studied than do the raves.

I agree with one purchaser - try to see this book before buying.

0 upvotes
Tiffles
By Tiffles (Feb 16, 2012)

Good stuff. More please!

0 upvotes
leicaman
By leicaman (Feb 14, 2012)

I worked at the Center For Creative Photography in Tucson back in tearly 1990's and I was lucky enough to have access to the entire Weston arcive which is housed at the CCP.Every so often we would have a Weston show and would bring as much as the gallery had room for out into the light. His work was astounding. It was a great place to work as every so often folks would stop in that actully knew Weston. Once... when we had mounted a Major Weston show a fellow walked in and siad that he owned an original of every print we had on the wall... including his early platinum prints,,, and many others as well. I asked him how he had aquired such a collection... He said that he had grown up next door to the Westion house... and in those days Weston would oftimes hold weekend print sales in his front yard. He and his father liked the work... and wanted to help supoport Weston... so they... like many others, pais an average of $10 to $25 each for the prints. What a deal!

2 upvotes
bryPT
By bryPT (Feb 14, 2012)

It finally clicked when I first saw Weston's work. Pure brilliance. I gave my son Weston as his middle name. Wish I could afford the book!

0 upvotes
doctorbza
By doctorbza (Feb 14, 2012)

It gets awfully quiet in the comments section when there's talk of, you know, actual photography.

8 upvotes
topstuff
By topstuff (Feb 14, 2012)

Thanks to DPR for posting an article about photography and photographers.

More please. As well as the classics it would be good to read about some of the modern greats, people like Carl De Keyzer for example..

Its not about the gear.

I guess this article will have posts in the dozens rather than the hundreds. I guess normal business will be resumed and there will be 400+ posts about how ugly a new camera looks.... Lol..

4 upvotes
Ray Sachs
By Ray Sachs (Feb 14, 2012)

Getting into photography in high school and college in the '70s, he was my first real photographic hero. Of course, everyone loved Ansel Adams work but Weston really sparked my imagination in ways that Ansel didn't. Adams took technically amazing photographs of beautiful places - but the places were already beautiful to anyone who ever saw them. Weston took everyday stuff and through sheer ability to see beauty in the mundane, was able to turn it into beautiful photographs. The classic is the bell pepper, but it was just the greatest example among many. If I could credit one person for getting me into photography, it was probably him...

2 upvotes
RobertPaul1956
By RobertPaul1956 (Feb 14, 2012)

Edward Weston was the first photographer to receive a Guggenheim fellowship and be recognized as an artist and tested out kodaks kodachrome with Ansel Adams.Not until you have seen his prints can you understand the importance of f-64 and if you have never owned a large format camera you will never understand the love affair between camera and photographer.

Comment edited 29 seconds after posting
2 upvotes
Allan Noyes
By Allan Noyes (Feb 14, 2012)

Always been my favorite Art Photographer. His still life's are the best ever captured!

0 upvotes
CaseyComo
By CaseyComo (Feb 14, 2012)

Cool 'stache, bro.

2 upvotes
WAGeo
By WAGeo (Feb 14, 2012)

Never quite "got" Edward...Now Brett is another story! I always though both of their style of nudes were rather exploitive...

I think I want

"cabbage leaves conjure the voluptuous curves of a woman"

As my signature going forward....

0 upvotes
bigbasin
By bigbasin (Feb 14, 2012)

Mixed reviews on Amazon so far, mainly around binding and printing.

0 upvotes
JosephScha
By JosephScha (Feb 13, 2012)

I think I'm going to have to click on "I want to read this on my kindle" because that's just so absurd.

1 upvote
rhlpetrus
By rhlpetrus (Feb 13, 2012)

His nudes are awesome!

1 upvote
dtmoody
By dtmoody (Feb 13, 2012)

Yay!

0 upvotes
jmmgarza
By jmmgarza (Feb 13, 2012)

Weston is one of my favorites. Growing up in the SF Bay Area, he and others from the f64 crew were preeminent.

1 upvote
Total comments: 23