Salient. Victoria University Student Newspaper. [Volume 39, Issue 8. April 1976]
Edward Weston Photographs
Edward Weston Photographs
If every there was any doubt in my mind that photography qualified as "Art", that doubt has been well and truly dispelled by this exhibition of Edward Weston's work of the twenties and thirties.
Weston is one of the old masters of photography and, with Stieglitz and Strand, was one of the foremost exponents of straight or classic photography.
Straight photography employs the very minimum of darkroom manipulation.
Weston didn't use an enlarger because of the inevitable loss of quality of definition and clarity of image entailed in the enlarging process. He was the complete purist. He considered that he had failed if he ever had to crop the final print.
He worked with the classic 8 × 10inch view camera which enabled him to see the finished image in full size before he clicked the shutter.
This was the essence of his philosophy; the necessity to visualise the final result before making the exposure, encapsulating the moment and then not tampering with it.
Using the simplest methods, he married aesthetic and technique to the point of virtuosity: Unless I pull a technically fine print from a technically fine negative, the emotional or intellectual value of the photograph is for me almost negated", he wrote.
Weston was aware of a duality in his work. A philosophical commitment to realism on the one hand a strong tendency towards abstraction on the other.
In 1924 he wrote: 'The camera must be used for recording life for rendering the very substance and quintessence of the thing itself ... I shall let no chance pass to record interesting abstractions, but I feel definite in my belief that the approach to photography is through realism ."
The emphasis in the selection of his work exhibited here is on abstraction and pure form Except for a few landscapes, stunning in their sharpness of definition, one beautiful soft focus portrait of a woman, (quite atypical - there are no other photographs of people), a couple of highly evocative photographs of places, ( a Mexican backyard, a seaside settlement a harbour scene), the photographs are of objects Seashells, peppers, factory chimneys, piled up pots in a Mexican marketplace, artichokes, pieces of driftwood and church doors predominate. His nudes are depersonalised studies of form.
Weston was a sculptor with a camera. He died in 1958, but breathtaking beauty of the body of work he left behind must be considered one of the major achievements of 20th century American art.