Edward Weston (American, March 24, 1886–January 1, 1958) is sometimes referred to as one of the most influential and innovative photographers of his time. Weston was born in Highland, IL, and spent the majority of his childhood in Chicago. He became interested in photography when his father gave him a Bulls-Eye #2 camera. He taught himself the art of photography at his aunt and uncle's farm when he was 16 years old. Weston’s first photograph was published in the magazine Camera and Darkroom in 1920.

He eventually moved to California and became an itinerant photographer, selling his services door to door. However, he later returned to Illinois for formal training, attending the Illinois College of Photography in Effingham, IL. Weston’s first photography job was as a retoucher, and he soon moved on to portraits at the Louis A. Mojoiner Portrait Studio, in Los Angeles, CA. It was at this studio that his incredible ability for lighting and posing first became apparent. Weston opened his own studio in Tropico, CA, in 1911, and worked from this location for 20 years. He became well-known for his expertise in soft focus techniques and pictorial style, later expanding this scope to include landscapes, still lifes, and nudes. Weston met the photographer Margrethe Mather (American, 1885–1952), and the two began an intense relationship and work collaboration. He greatly admired her work with lighting. Weston gained fame, alongside Mather, by photographing some of the most well-known names of the day including Carl Sandburg and Max Eastman.

In 1922, Weston shifted from pictorial style to abstract form after a visit to the ARMCO Steel Plant, in Middleton, OH. On that same trip, he traveled to New York, NY, and met photographers Clarence H. White (American, 1871–1925), Gertrude Kasebier (American, 1852–1934), and Alfred Stieglitz (American, 1864–1946). From 1923 to 1927, Weston lived and worked in Mexico. Upon his return to the United States, Weston created one of his most famous photographs, Nautilus (1927). This work is a study of the use of light on a sea shell. The photographer was also known for the nude portraits of his muse, Charis Wilson (American, 1914–2009). One of those portraits, Charis, Santa Monica, is considered one of his most famous works. Weston also published several books, the first of which was The Art of Edward Weston (1932).

The photographer's works have been shown in several museums including the Museum of Modern Art in New York, NY, and the Musée National d'Art Moderne in Paris, France. Weston was invited to teach at the first Ansel Adams photography workshop in 1940, in Yosemite, CA. Upon his death from Parkinson's disease in 1958, the Smithsonian Institute displayed 100 of what Weston considered to be his best works in an exhibition titled The World of Edward Weston.

Timeline

1886
Born in Highland Park, Illinois
1908
Studied at the Illinois College of Photography
1958
Died in Carmel, CA

Exhibitions

2013
Edward Weston: Leaves of Grass - Arkansas Arts Center, Little Rock, AR
2012
Edward Weston: Leaves of Grass - MFA - Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, Boston, MA
2011
Draped Nude - Gallery 1313, Toronto, ON
Edward Weston - Monterey Museum of Art, Monterey, CA
Edward Weston: Life Work - Heckscher Museum of Art, Huntington, NY
2010
Edward Weston - Chris Beetles Art Gallery, London (England)
2009
Edward Weston: Life Work, Akron Art Musuem, Akron, Ohio
Viva Mexico! Edward Weston and His Contemporaries, MFA Boston, Boston, MA
2008
Edward Weston: Mexico, Pheonix Art Museum, Phoenix, AZ
2007
Edward Weston: Enduring Vision, The Getty Center, Los Angeles, CA
Mexico as Muse: Tina Modotti and Edward Weston, SFMOMA, San Francisco, CA
1956
The World of Edward Weston, Smithsonian Institution, Washington D.C.
1946
Major Retrospective, Museum of Modern Art, New York

Literature

1966
The Daybooks of Edward Weston, vol. II
1962
The Daybooks of Edward Weston, vol. I
1952
50th Anniversary Portfolio
1950
My Camera on Point Lobos, Edward Weston
1941
Special Edition of Leaves of Grass by Walt Whitman
1940
California and the West by C. W. Weston