Edward Weston: Life Work

I’ve been wanting (needing) a Weston book for some time. Giant gaping hole in my shelf without him since he’s one of my favorite artists (in any media). Thanks for the recommendation and the deal. I don’t normally impulse buy anything over $50 but this is a special exception.

—My comment on TOP’s Weston Offer

It’s hard to explain exactly how excited I was to order and receive this book. And how scared I was that it wouldn’t live up to my expectations. Weston is one of those photographers whose work I’ve absorbed without realizing it.* I know that a lot of things I see and notice are rooted in images in my memory which I’m no longer conscious of. Many of those images are Weston textures and I know that I’m always looking for found still-lifes around me.

*Something I’ve noted previously when I visited the Cantor Center. 

I’ve already discussed how I consider Weston to be as cutting edge today as he was a century ago. This book just reaffirms it. Despite being organized thematically and biographically,* it’s impossible to not see how the consistency of vision results in the extraordinary exploration into form and texture without regard to the actual subject matter. Having a hundred images to look through and see this experimentation at my leisure just allows me to get a greater sense of it.

*I really love the idea of seeing Weston images in a sequence which puts similar forms together without caring about the content.

It’s interesting reading the text since it includes a lot of the reactions to the images. The still lives are often considered highly erotic while the nudes are expressly not erotic. Despite being all about the form as photographed, because of people’s expectations regarding the content, the reactions to the images are very different. I’ve reached the point with Weston where I don’t really care what the image is of, but I can see how other people get hung up on that aspect. It’s a fascinating thought experiment too which has me thinking about what kind of baggage certain content comes with.

I also can’t write about this book without mentioning the actual quality of the publication. This is an impressive printed object. Different paper types. Nice typesetting. And fantastic image quality. The commitment to making these images look as close to the original contact prints means that I’m fighting the urge to tear this book apart and start framing the pages. Most books, I feel like I’m looking at printed pages. This book feels like pages and pages of prints.

Author: Nick Vossbrink

Blogging about Photography, Museums, Printing, and Baseball Cards from both Princeton New Jersey and the San Francisco Bay Area. On Twitter as @vossbrink, WordPress at njwv.wordpress.com, and the web at vossbrink.net

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