Edward Henry Weston (March 24, 1886 – January 1, 1958) “was a 20th-century American photographer. He has been called “one of the most innovative and influential American photographers…”[1] and “one of the masters of 20th century photography.”[2] Over the course of his 40-year career Weston photographed an increasingly expansive set of subjects, including landscapes, still lifes, nudes, portraits, genre scenes and even whimsical parodies. It is said that he developed a “quintessentially American, and specially Californian, approach to modern photography”[3] because of his focus on the people and places of the American West. In 1937 Weston was the first photographer to receive a Guggenheim Fellowship, and over the next two years he produced nearly 1,400 negatives using his 8 × 10 view camera. Some of his most famous photographs were taken of the trees and rocks at Point Lobos, California, near where he lived for many years.

Weston was born in Chicago and moved to California when he was 21. He knew he wanted to be a photographer from an early age, and initially his work was typical of the soft focus pictorialism that was popular at the time. Within a few years, however, he abandoned that style and went on to be one of the foremost champions of highly detailed photographic images.

In 1947 he was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease and he stopped photographing soon thereafter. He spent the remaining ten years of his life overseeing the printing of more than 1,000 of his most famous images.


1906–23: Becoming a photographer

At the urging of his sister, Weston left Chicago in the spring of 1906 and moved near May’s home in Tropico, California (now a neighborhood in Glendale). He decided to stay there and pursue a career in photography, but he soon realized he needed more professional training. A year later he moved to Effingham, Illinois, in order to enroll in the Illinois College of Photography. They taught a nine-month course, but Weston finished all of the class work in six months. The school refused to give him a diploma unless he paid for the full nine months; Weston refused and instead moved back to California in the spring of 1908.

He briefly worked at the photography studio of George Steckel in Los Angeles, as a negative retoucher. Within a few months he moved to the more established studio of Louis Mojonier. For the next several years he learned the techniques and business of operating a photography studio under Mojonier’s direction.

Within days of his visit to Tropico, Weston was introduced to his sister’s best friend, Flora May Chandler. She was a graduate of the Normal School, later to become UCLA. She assumed the position of a grade-school teacher in Tropico. She was seven years older than Weston and a distant relative, to Harry Chandler, who at that time was described as the head of “the single most powerful family in Southern California. This fact did not go unnoticed by Weston and his biographers.

On January 30, 1909, Weston and Chandler married in a simple ceremony. The first of their four sons, Edward Chandler Weston (1910–1993), known as Chandler, was born on April 26, 1910. Named Edward Chandler, after Weston and his wife, he later became an excellent photographer on his own. He clearly learned much by being an assistant to his father in the bungalow studio. In 1923 he bid farewell to his mother and sibling brothers and sailed off to Mexico with his father and Tina Modotti. He gave up any aspirations in pursuing photography as a career after his adventures in Mexico. The lifestyle of fame and its fortune affected him greatly. His later photographs, as a hobbyist, albeit rare, certainly reflect an innate talent for the form.

In 1910 Weston opened his own business, called “The Little Studio”, in Tropico. His sister later asked him why he opened his studio in Tropico rather than in the nearby metropolis of Los Angeles, and he replied “Sis, I’m going to make my name so famous that it won’t matter where I live.”[6]

For the next three years he worked, alone and sometimes with the assistance of family members in his studio. Even at that early stage of his career he was highly particular about his work; in an interview at that time he said “[photographic] plates are nothing to me unless I get what I want. I have used thirty of them at a sitting if I did not secure the effect to suit me.”[7]

His critical eye paid off as he quickly gained more recognition for his work. He won prizes in national competitions, published several more photographs and wrote articles for magazines such as Photo-Era and American Photography, championing the pictorial style.

On December 16, 1911, Weston’s second son, Theodore Brett Weston (1911–1993), was born. He became a long-time artistic collaborator with his father and an important photographer on his own.

Sometime in the fall of 1913, Los Angeles photographer, Margrethe Mather visited Weston’s studio because of his growing reputation, and within a few months they developed an intense relationship.[8] Weston was a quiet Midwestern transplant to California, and Mather was a part of the growing bohemian cultural scene in Los Angeles. She was very outgoing and artistic in a flamboyant way, and her permissive sexual morals were far different from the conservative Weston at the time – Mather had been a prostitute and was bisexual with a preference for women.[9] Mather presented a stark contrast to Weston’s home life; his wife Flora was described as a “homely, rigid Puritan, and an utterly conventional woman, with whom he had little in common since he abhorred conventions”[10] ‒ and he found Mather’s uninhibited lifestyle irresistible and her photographic vision intriguing.

He asked Mather to be his studio assistant, and for the next decade they worked closely together, making individual and jointly signed portraits of such luminaries as Carl Sandburg and Max Eastman. A joint exhibition of their work in 2001 revealed that during this period Weston emulated Mather’s style and, later, her choice of subjects. On her own Mather photographed “fans, hands, eggs, melons, waves, bathroom fixtures, seashells and birds wings, all subjects that Weston would also explore.”[11] A decade later he described her as “the first important person in my life, and perhaps even now, though personal contact has gone, the most important.”[12]

In early 1915 Weston began keeping detailed journals he later came to call his “Daybooks”. For the next two decades he recorded his thoughts about his work, observations about photography, and his interactions with friends, lovers and family. On December 6, 1916, a third son, Lawrence Neil Weston, was born. He also followed in the footsteps of his father and became a well-known photographer. It was during this period that Weston first met photographer Johan Hagemeyer, whom Weston mentored and lent his studio to from time to time. Later, Hagemeyer would return the favor by letting Weston use his studio in Carmel after he returned from Mexico. For the next several years Weston continued to earn a living by taking portraits in his small studio which he called “the shack”.[7]

Meanwhile, Flora was spending all of her time caring for their children. Their fourth son, Cole Weston (1919–2003), was born on January 30, 1919, and afterward she rarely had time to leave their home.

Over the summer of 1920 Weston met two people who were part of the growing Los Angeles cultural scene: Roubaix de l’Abrie Richey, known as “Robo” and a woman he called his wife, Tina Modotti. Modotti, who was then known only as a stage and film actress, was never married to Robo, but they pretended to be for the sake of his family. Weston and Modotti were immediately attracted to each other, and they soon became lovers.[13] Richey knew of Modotti’s affair, but he continued to be friends with Weston and later invited him to come to Mexico and share his studio.[14]

The following year Weston agreed to allow Mather to become an equal partner in his studio. For several months they took portraits that they signed with both of their names. This was the only time in his long career that Weston shared credit with another photographer.

Sometime in 1920 he began photographing nude models for the first time. His first models were his wife Flora and their children, but soon thereafter he took at least three nude studies of Mather. He followed these with several more photographs of nude models, the first of dozens of figure studies he would make of friends and lovers over the next twenty years.

Until now Weston had kept his relationships with other women a secret from his wife, but as he began to photograph more nudes Flora became suspicious about what went on with his models. Chandler recalled that his mother regularly sent him on “errands” to his father’s studio and asked him to tell her who was there and what they were doing.[15]

“Portrait of Tina Modotti” (1922) by Weston

One of the first who agreed to model nude for Weston was Modotti. She became his primary model for the next several years.

In 1922 he visited his sister May, who had moved to Middletown, Ohio. While there he made five or six photographs of the tall smoke stacks at the nearby Armco steel mill. These images signaled a change in Weston’s photographic style, a transition from the soft-focus pictorialism of the past to a new, cleaner-edge style. He immediately recognized the change and later recorded it in his notes: “The Middletown visit was something to remember…most of all in importance was my photographing of ‘Armco’…That day I made great photographs, even Stieglitz thought they were important!”[16]

At that time New York City was the cultural center for photography as an art form in America, and Alfred Stieglitz was the most influential figure in photography.[17] Weston badly wanted to go to New York to meet with him, but he did not have enough money to make the trip. His brother-in-law gave him enough money to continue on from Middletown to New York City, and he spent most of October and early November there. While there he met artist Charles Sheeler, photographers Clarence H. White, Gertrude Kasebier and finally, Stieglitz. Weston wrote that Stieglitz told him, “Your work and attitude reassures me. You have shown me at least several prints which have given me a great deal of joy. And I can seldom say that of photographs.”[18]

Soon after Weston returned from New York, Robo moved to Mexico and set up a studio there to create batiks. Within a short while he had arranged for a joint exhibition of his work and of photographs by Weston, Mather and a few others. In early 1923 Modotti left by train to be with Robo in Mexico, but he contracted smallpox and died shortly before she arrived. Modotti was grief-stricken, but within a few weeks she felt well enough that she decided to stay and carry out the exhibition that Robo had planned. The show was a success, and, due in no small part to his nude studies of Modotti, it firmly established Weston’s artistic reputation in Mexico.[19]

After the show closed Modotti returned to California, and Weston and she made plans to return to Mexico together. He wanted to spend a couple of months there photographing and promoting his work, and, conveniently, he could travel under the pretense of Modotti being his assistant and translator.[20]

The week before he left for Mexico, Weston briefly reunited with Mather and took several nudes of her lying in the sand at Redondo Beach. These images were very different from his previous nude studies – sharply focused and showing her entire body in relation to the natural setting. They have been called the artistic prototypes for his most famous nudes, those of Charis Wilson which he would take more than a decade later.[21]

1923–27: Mexico

On July 30, 1923, Weston, his son Chandler, and Modotti left on a steamer for the extended trip to Mexico. His wife, Flora, and their other three sons waved goodbye to them at the dock. It’s unknown what Flora understood or thought about the relationship between Weston and Modotti, but she is reported to have called out at the dock, “Tina, take good care of my boys.”[22]

They arrived in Mexico City on August 11 and rented a large hacienda outside of the city. Within a month he had arranged for an exhibition of his work at the Aztec Land Gallery, and on October 17 the show opened to glowing press reviews. He was particularly proud of a review by Marius de Zayas that said “Photography is beginning to be photography, for until now it has only been art.”[23]

The different culture and scenery in Mexico forced Weston to look at things in new ways. He became more responsive to what was in front of him, and he turned his camera on everyday objects like toys, doorways and bathroom fixtures. He also made several intimate nudes and portraits of Modotti. He wrote in his Daybooks:

  • The camera should be used for a recording of life, for rendering the very substance and quintessence of the thing itself…I feel definite in the belief that the approach to photography is through realism.[24]

Weston continued to photograph the people and things around him, and his reputation in Mexico increased the longer he stayed. He had a second exhibition at the Aztec Land Galley in 1924, and he had a steady stream of local socialites asking him to take their portraits. At the same time, Weston began to miss his other sons back in the U.S. As with many of his actions, though, it was a woman who motivated him most. He had recently corresponded with a woman he had known for several years named Miriam Lerner, and as her letters became more passionate he longed to see her again.[25]

He and Chandler returned to San Francisco at the end of 1924, and the next month he set up a studio with Hagemeyer. Weston seemed to be struggling with his past and his future during this period. He burned all of his pre-Mexico journals, as though trying to erase the past, and started a new series of nudes with Lerner and with his son Neil. He wrote that these images were “the start of a new period in my approach and attitude towards photography.”[25]

His new relationship with Lerner did not last long, and in August 1925 he returned to Mexico, this time with his son Brett. Modotti had arranged a joint show of their photographs, and it opened the week he returned. He received new critical acclaim, and six of his prints were purchased for the State Museum. For the next several months he concentrated once again on photographing folk art, toys and local scenes. One of his strongest images of this period is of three black clay pots that art historian Rene d’Harnoncourt described as “the beginning of a new art.”[26]

In May 1926 Weston signed a contract with writer Anita Brenner for $1,000 to make photographs for a book she was writing about Mexican folk art. In June he, Modotti and Brett started traveling around the country in search of lesser known native arts and crafts. His contract required him to give Brenner three finished prints from 400 8×10 negatives, and it took him until November of that year to complete the work.[27] During their travels, Brett received a crash course in photography from his father, and he made more than two dozen prints that his father judged to be of exceptional quality.

By the time they returned from their trip, Weston and Modotti’s relationship had crumbled, and within less than two weeks he and Brett returned to California. He never traveled to Mexico again.

1927–35: Glendale to Carmel

Weston initially returned to his old studio in Glendale (previously called Tropico). He quickly arranged a dual exhibition at University of California of the photographs that he and Brett had made the year before. The father showed 100 prints and the son showed 20. Brett was only 15 years old at the time.

In February he started a new series of nudes, this time of dancer Bertha Wardell. One of this series, of her kneeling body cut off at the shoulders, is one of Weston’s most well-known figure studies. At this same time he met Canadian painter Henrietta Shore, whom he asked to comment on the photos of Wardell. He was surprised by her honest critique: “I wish you would not do so many nudes – you are getting used to them, the subject no longer amazes you ‒ most of these are just nudes.”[28]

Nautilus (1927) by Weston

He asked to look at her work and was intrigued by her large paintings of sea shells. He borrowed several shells from her, thinking he might find some inspiration for a new still life series. Over the next few weeks he explored many different kinds of shell and background combinations – in his log of photographs taken for 1927 he listed fourteen negatives of shells.[29] One of these, simply called Nautilus, 1927″ (sometimes called Shell, 1927), became one of his most famous images. Modotti called the image “mystical and erotic,”[30] and when she showed it to Rene d’Harnoncourt he said he felt “weak at the knees.”[31] Weston is known to have made at least twenty-eight prints of this image, more than he had made of any other shell image.[29]

In September of that year Weston had a major exhibition at Palace of the Legion of Honor. At the open of the show he met fellow photographer Willard Van Dyke, who later introduced Weston to Ansel Adams.

In May, 1928, Weston and Brett made a brief but important trip to the Mojave Desert. It was there that he first explored and photographed landscapes as an art form.[32] He found the stark rock forms and empty spaces to be a visual revelation, and over a long weekend he took twenty-seven photographs.[33] In his journal he declared “these negatives are the most important I have ever done.”[34]

Later that year he and Brett moved to San Francisco, where they lived and worked in a small studio owned by Hagemeyer. He made portraits to earn an income, but he longed to get away by himself and get back to his art. In early 1929 he moved to Hagemeyer’s cottage in Carmel, and it was there that he finally found the solitude and the inspiration that he was seeking. He placed a sign in studio window that said, “Edward Weston, Photographer, Unretouched Portraits, Prints for Collectors.”

He started making regular trips to nearby Point Lobos, where he would continue to photograph until the end of his career. It was there that he learned to fine-tune his photographic vision to match the visual space of his view camera, and the images he took there, of kelp, rocks and wind-blown trees, are among his finest. Looking at his work from this period, one biographer wrote:

  • “Weston arranged his compositions so that things happened on the edges; lines almost cross or meet and circular lines just touch the edges tangentially; his compositions were now created exclusively for a space with the proportions of eight by ten. There is no extraneous space nor is there too little.”[35]

In early April, 1929, Weston met photographer Sonya Noskowiak at a party, and by the end of the month she was living with him. As with many of his other relationships, she became his model, muse, pupil and assistant. They would continue to live together for five years.

Pepper No. 30 (1930) by Weston

Intrigued by the many kinds and shapes of kelp he found on the beaches near Carmel, in 1930 Weston began taking close-ups of vegetables and fruits. He made a variety of photographs of cabbage, kale, onions, bananas, and finally, his most iconic image, peppers. In August of that year Noskowiak brought him several green peppers, and over a four-day period he shot at least thirty different negatives. Of these, Pepper No. 30, is among the all-time masterpieces of photography.[36]

Weston had a series of important one-man exhibitions in 1930-31. The first was at Alma Reed’s Delphic Studio Galley in New York, followed closely by a mounting of the same show at the Denny Watrous Gallery in Carmel. Both received rave reviews, including a two-page article in the New York Times Magazine.[35] These were followed by shows at De Young Museum in San Francisco and the Galerie Jean Naert in Paris.

Although he was succeeding professionally his personal life was very complex. For most of their marriage, Flora was able to take care of their children because of an inheritance from her parents. However, the Wall Street Crash of 1929 had wiped out most of her savings, and Weston felt increased pressure to help provide more for her and his sons. He described this time as “the most trying economic period of my life.”[35]

In 1932, The Art of Edward Weston, the first book devoted exclusively to Weston’s work, was published. It was edited by Merle Armitage and dedicated to Alice Rohrer, an admirer and patron of Weston whose $500 donation helped pay for the book to be published.

During the same time a small group of like-minded photographers in the San Francisco area, led by Van Dyke and Ansel Adams, began informally meeting to discuss their common interest and aesthetics. Inspired by Weston’s show at the De Young Museum the previous year, they approached the museum with the idea of mounting a group exhibition of their work. They named themselves Group f/64, and in November, 1932, an exhibition of 80 of their prints opened at the museum. The show was a critical success.

In 1933 Weston bought a 4 × 5 Graflex camera, which was much smaller and lighter than the large view camera he had used for many years. He began taking close-up nudes of Noskowiak and other models. The smaller camera allowed him to interact more with his models, while at the same time the nudes he took during this period began to resemble some of the contorted root and vegetables he had taken the year before.[37]

In early 1934, “a new and important chapter opened”[38] in Weston’s life when he met Charis Wilson at a concert. Even more than with his previous lovers, Weston was immediately captivated by her beauty and her personality. He wrote: “A new love came into my life, a most beautiful one, one which will, I believe, stand the test of time.”[39] On April 22 he photographed her nude for the first time, and they entered into an intense relationship. He was still living with Noskowiak at that time, but within two weeks he asked her to move out, declaring that for him other women were “as inevitable as the tides”.[40]

Perhaps because of the intensity of his new relationship, he stopped writing in his Daybooks at this same time. Six months later he wrote one final entry, looking back from April 22:

  • After eight months we are closer together than ever. Perhaps C. will be remembered as the great love of my life. Already I have achieved certain heights reached with no other love.[41]

1935–45: Guggenheim grant to Wildcat Hill

In January, 1935 Weston was facing increasing financial difficulties. He closed his studio in Carmel and moved to Santa Monica Canyon, California, where he opened a new studio with Brett. He implored Wilson to come and live with him, and in August 1935 she finally agreed. While she had an intense interest in his work, Wilson was the first woman Weston had lived with since Flora who had no interest in becoming a photographer.[42] This allowed Weston to concentrate on her as his muse and model, and in turn Wilson devoted her time to promoting Weston’s art as his assistant and quasi-agent.

Almost immediately he began taking a new series of nudes with Wilson as the model. One of the first photographs he took of her, on the balcony of their home, became one of his most published images (Nude (Charis, Santa Monica)). Soon after they took the first of several trips to Oceano Dunes, not far from Santa Monica. It was there that Weston made some of his most daring and intimate photographs of any of his models, capturing Wilson in completely uninhibited poses in the sand dunes. He exhibited only one or two of this series in his lifetime, thinking several of the others were “too erotic”[43] for the general public.

Although his recent work had received critical acclaim, he was not earning enough income from his artistic images to provide a steady income. Rather than going back to relying solely on portraiture, he started the “Edward Weston Print of the Month Club”, offering selections of his photos for a monthly $5 subscription. Each month subscribers would receive a new print from Weston, with a limited edition of 40 copies of each print. Although he created these prints with the same high standards that he did for his exhibition prints, it is thought that he never had more than eleven subscribers.[42]

At the suggestion of Beaumont Newhall, Weston decided to apply for a Guggenheim Foundation grant (now known as a Guggenheim Fellowship). He wrote a two-sentence description about his work, assembled thirty-five of his favorites prints, and sent it in.[44] Afterward Dorothea Lange and her husband suggested that the application was too brief to be seriously considered, and Weston resubmitted it with a four-page letter and work plan. He did not mention that Wilson had written the new application for him.[45]

On March 22, 1937, Weston received notification that he had been awarded a Guggenheim grant, the first ever given to a photographer.[46] The award was $2,000 for one year, a significant amount of money at that time. He was able to further capitalize on the award by arranging to provide the editor of AAA Westway Magazine with 8-10 photos per month for $50 during their travels, with Wilson getting an additional $15 monthly for photo captions and short narratives. They purchased a new car and set out on Weston’s dream trip to go and photograph whatever he wanted. Over the next twelve months they made seventeen trips and covered 16,697 miles according to Wilson’s detailed log. Weston made 1,260 negatives during the trip.

The freedom of this trip with the “love of his life”, combined with all of his sons now reaching the age of adulthood, gave Weston the motivation to finally divorce his wife. They had been living apart for sixteen years.[47]

Due to the success of the past year, Weston applied for and received a second year of Guggenheim support. Although he wanted to do some additional traveling, he intended to use most of the money to allow him to print his past year’s work. He commissioned Neil to build a small home in the Carmel Highlands on property owned by Wilson’s father. They named the place “Wildcat Hill” because of the many domestic cats that soon occupied the grounds.

Wilson set up a writing studio in what was intended to be a small garage behind the house, and she spent several months writing and editing stories from their travels.

In 1939, Seeing California with Edward Weston was published, with photographs by Weston and writing by Wilson. Finally relieved from the financial stresses of the past and inordinately happy with his work and his relationship, Weston married Wilson in a small ceremony on April 24.

Buoyed by the success of their first book, in 1940 they published California and the West. The first edition, featuring 96 of Weston’s photos with text by Wilson, sold for $3.95. Over the summer, Weston taught photography at the first Ansel Adams Workshop at Yosemite National Park.

Just as the Guggenheim money was running out, Weston was invited to illustrate a new edition of Walt Whitman‘s Leaves of Grass. He would receive $1,000 for photographs and $500 travel expenses. Weston insisted on having artistic control of the images he would take and insisted that he would not be taking literal illustrations of Whitman’s text. On May 28 he and Wilson began a trip that would cover 20,000 miles through 24 states; he took between 700 and 800 8×10 negatives as well as dozens of Graflex portraits.[48]

On December 7, 1941, Pearl Harbor was attacked, and the United States entered World War II. Weston was near the end of the Whitman trip, and he was deeply affected by the outbreak of the war. He wrote: “When the war broke out we scurried home. Charis did not want to scurry. I did.”[49]

He spent the first few months of 1942 organizing and printing the negatives from the Whitman trip. Of the hundreds of images he took, forty-nine were selected for publication.

Due to the war, Point Lobos was closed to the public for several years. Weston continued to work on images centered on Wildcat Hill, including shots of the many cats that lived there. Weston treated them with the same serious intent that he applied to all of his other subjects, and Charis assembled the results into their most unusual publication, The Cats of Wildcat Hill, which was finally published in 1947.

The year 1945 marked the beginning of significant changes for Weston. He began to experience the first symptoms of Parkinson’s disease, a debilitating ailment that gradually stole his strength and his ability to photograph. He withdrew from Wilson, who at the same time began to become more involved in local politics and the Carmel cultural scene. A strength that originally brought them together – her lack of interest in becoming a photographer herself – eventually led to their break-up. She wrote, “My flight from Edward was also partly an escape from photography, which had taken up so much room in my life for so many years.”[50]

While working on a major retrospective exhibition for the Museum of Modern Art, he and Wilson separated. Weston returned to Glendale since the land for their cabin at Wildcat Hill still belonged to Wilson’s father. Within a few months she moved out and arranged to sell the property to him.

1946–58: Final years

Point Lobos (1946) by Weston

In February, 1946, Weston’s major retrospective opened at the Museum of Modern Art in New York. He and Beaumont Newhall selected 313 prints for the exhibition, and eventually 250 photographs were displayed along with 11 negatives. At that time many of his prints were still for sale, and he sold 97 prints from the exhibit at $25 per print. Later that year, Weston was asked by Dr. George L. Waters of Kodak to produce 8 × 10 Kodachrome transparencies for their advertising campaign. Weston had never worked in color before, primarily because he had no means of developing or printing the more complicated color process. He accepted their offer in no small part because they offered him $250 per image, the highest amount he would be paid for any single work in his lifetime.[51] He eventually sold seven color works to Kodak of landscapes and scenery at Point Lobos and nearby Monterey harbor.

In 1947 as his Parkinson’s disease progressed, Weston began looking for an assistant. Serendipitously, an eager young photographic enthusiast, Dody Weston Thompson, contacted him in search of employment.

Weston mentioned he had just that morning written a letter to Ansel Adams, looking for someone seeking to learn photography in exchange for carrying his bulky large-format camera and to provide a much needed automobile. There was a swift meeting of creative minds. For the remainder of 1947 through the beginning of 1948, Dody commuted from San Francisco on weekends to learn from Weston the basics of photography. In early 1948, Dody moved into “Bodie House,” the guest cottage at Edward’s Wildcat Hill compound, as his full-time assistant.

By late 1948 he was no longer physically able to use his large view camera. That year he took his last photographs, at Point Lobos. His final negative was an image he called, “Rocks and Pebbles, 1948”. Although diminished in his capacity, Weston never stopped being a photographer. He worked with his sons and Dody to catalog his images and especially to oversee the publication and printing of his work. In 1950 there was a major retrospective of his work at the Musee National d’Art Moderne in Paris, and in 1952 he published a Fiftieth Anniversary portfolio, with images printed by Brett.

During this time he worked with Cole, Brett, and Dody Thompson (Brett’s wife by 1952), to select and have them print a master set of what he considered his best work. They spent many long hours together in the darkroom, and by 1956 they had produced what Weston called “The Project Prints”, eight sets of 8” × 10” prints from 830 of his negatives. The only complete set today is housed at the University of California, Santa Cruz. Later that same year the Smithsonian Institution displayed nearly 100 of these prints at a major exhibit, “The World of Edward Weston”, paying tribute to his accomplishments in American photography.

Weston died at his home on Wildcat Hill on New Year’s Day, 1958. His sons scattered his ashes into the Pacific Ocean at an area then known as Pebbly Beach on Point Lobos. Due to Weston’s significant influence in the area, the beach was later renamed Weston Beach. He had $300 in his bank account at the time of his death.[52]

Equipment and techniques

Cameras and lenses

During his lifetime Weston worked with several cameras. He began as a more serious photographer in 1902 when he purchased a 5 x 7 camera.[53] When he moved to Tropico and opened his studio in 1911 he acquired an enormous 11 x 14 Graf Variable studio portrait camera. Roi Partridge, Imogen Cunningham‘s husband, later made an etching of Weston in his studio, dwarfed by the giant camera in front of him.[54] After he began taking more portraits of children, he bought a 3 ¼ x 4 ¼ Graflex in 1912 in order to better capture their quickly changing expressions.[55]

When he went to Mexico in 1924 he took an 8 × 10 Seneca folding-bed view camera with several lenses, including a Graf Variable and a Wollensak Verito. While in Mexico he purchased a used Rapid Rectilinear lens which he was his primary lens for many years. The lens, now in the George Eastman House, did not have a manufacturer’s name.[56] He also took to Mexico a 3¼ × 4¼ Graflex with a ƒ/4.5 Tessar lens, which he used for portraits.

In 1933 he purchased a 4 x 5 R. B. Auto-Graflex and used it thereafter for all portraits. [57] He continued to use the Seneca view camera for all other work.

In 1939 he listed the following items as his standard equipment:[57]

  • 8 x 10 Century Universal
  • Triple convertible Turner Reich, 12″, 21″, 28″
  • K2, G, A filters
  • 12 film holders
  • Paul Ries Tripod

He continued to use this equipment throughout his life.”

 You can read the entire biography in Wikipedia, from where this excerpt was taken

To see more images please visit,

Photographer Featured:
David Hockney

David Hockney, OM, CH, RA (born 9 July 1937) is an English painter, draughtsman, printmaker, stage designer and photographer. An important contributor to the pop art movement of the 1960s, he is considered one of the most influential British artists of the 20th century.[1][2]

Hockney has a home and studio in Kensington, London and two residences in California, where he has lived on and off for over 30 years: one in Nichols Canyon, Los Angeles, and an office and archives on Santa Monica Boulevard[3] in West Hollywood.[4][5] For many years he also kept a home in Bridlington, East Riding of Yorkshire, until this was sold in 2015.
Hockney was born in Bradford, England, to Laura and Kenneth Hockney (a conscientious objector in the Second World War), the fourth of five children.[6][7] He was educated at Wellington Primary School, Bradford Grammar School, Bradford College of Art (where his teachers included Frank Lisle[8] ) and the Royal College of Art in London, where he met R. B. Kitaj.[6] While there, Hockney said he felt at home and took pride in his work. At the Royal College of Art, Hockney featured in the exhibition Young Contemporaries—alongside Peter Blake—that announced the arrival of British Pop art. He was associated with the movement, but his early works display expressionist elements, similar to some works by Francis Bacon. When the RCA said it would not let him graduate in 1962, Hockney drew the sketch The Diploma in protest. He had refused to write an essay required for the final examination, saying he should be assessed solely on his artworks. Recognising his talent and growing reputation, the RCA changed its regulations and awarded the diploma.

A Bigger Splash (1967), Tate Collection, London
A visit to California, where he subsequently lived for many years, inspired him to make a series of paintings of swimming pools in the comparatively new acrylic medium rendered in a highly realistic style using vibrant colours. The artist moved to Los Angeles in 1964, returned to London in 1968, and from 1973 to 1975 lived in Paris. He moved to Los Angeles in 1978, at first renting the canyon house he lived in and later bought the property and expanded it to include his studio.[9] He also owned a 1,643-square-foot beach house at 21039 Pacific Coast Highway in Malibu, which he sold in 1999 for around $1.5 million.

Hockney is openly gay,[10] and unlike Andy Warhol, whom he befriended, he openly explored the nature of gay love in his portraiture. Sometimes, as in We Two Boys Together Clinging (1961), named after a poem by Walt Whitman, the works refer to his love for men. Already in 1963, he painted two men together in the painting Domestic Scene, Los Angeles, one showering while the other washes his back.[11] In summer 1966, while teaching at UCLA he met Peter Schlesinger, an art student who posed for paintings and drawings, and with whom he was romantically involved.[12]

On the morning of 18 March 2013, Hockney’s 23-year-old assistant, Dominic Elliott, died as a result of drinking drain cleaner at Hockney’s Bridlington studio; he had also earlier drunk alcohol and taken cocaine, ecstasy and temazepam. Elliott was a first- and second-team player for Bridlington rugby club. It was reported that Hockney’s partner drove Elliott to Scarborough General Hospital where he later died. The inquest returned a verdict of death by misadventure and Hockney was never implicated.[13][14][15]

In November 2015 Hockney sold his house in Bridlington, a five-bedroomed former guesthouse, for £625,000, cutting all his remaining ties with the town. He retains a studio in London and a house in Malibu, California. [16] Hockney has smoked cigarettes for over 60 years but has been teetotal since 1990 when he had a heart-attack. He holds a California Medical Marijuana Verification Card, which enables him to buy cannabis for medical purposes. He has used hearing aids since 1979, but realised he was going deaf long before that. He swims for half an hour each day and can stand for six hours at the easel.[15]

Work[edit] Hockney made prints, portraits of friends, and stage designs for the Royal Court Theatre, Glyndebourne, La Scala and the Metropolitan Opera in New York City. Born with synaesthesia, he sees synesthetic colours in response to musical stimuli.[17] This does not show up in his painting or photography artwork, but is a common underlying principle in his designs for stage sets for ballet and opera—where he bases background colours and lighting on the colours he sees while listening to the piece’s music.


We Two Boys Together Clinging (1961)

Mr and Mrs Clark and Percy (1970–71), Tate Gallery, London
Hockney painted portraits at different periods in his career. From 1968, and for the next few years he painted friends, lovers, and relatives just under lifesize and in pictures that depicted good likenesses of his subjects. Hockney’s own presence is often implied, since the lines of perspective converge to suggest the artist’s point of view.[11] Hockney has repeatedly returned to the same subjects – his parents, artist Mo McDermott (Mo McDermott, 1976), various writers he has known, fashion designers Celia Birtwell and Ossie Clark (Mr and Mrs Clark and Percy, 1970–71), curator Henry Geldzahler, art dealer Nicholas Wilder,[18] George Lawson and his ballet dancer lover, Wayne Sleep.[11]

On arrival in California, Hockney changed from oil to acrylic paint, applying it as smooth flat and brilliant colour. In 1965, the print workshop Gemini G.E.L. approached him to create a series of lithographs with a Los Angeles theme. Hockney responded by creating a ready-made art collection.[19]

The “joiners”[edit] In the early 1980s, Hockney began to produce photo collages, which he called “joiners”,[20] first using Polaroid prints and subsequently 35mm, commercially processed colour prints. Using Polaroid snaps or photolab-prints of a single subject, Hockney arranged a patchwork to make a composite image.[21] An early photomontage was of his mother. Because the photographs are taken from different perspectives and at slightly different times, the result is work that has an affinity with Cubism, one of Hockney’s major aims—discussing the way human vision works. Some pieces are landscapes, such as Pearblossom Highway #2,[1][22] others portraits, such as Kasmin 1982,[23] and My Mother, Bolton Abbey, 1982.[24]

Creation of the “joiners” occurred accidentally. He noticed in the late sixties that photographers were using cameras with wide-angle lenses. He did not like these photographs because they looked somewhat distorted. While working on a painting of a living room and terrace in Los Angeles, he took Polaroid shots of the living room and glued them together, not intending for them to be a composition on their own. On looking at the final composition, he realized it created a narrative, as if the viewer moved through the room. He began to work more with photography after this discovery and stopped painting for a while to exclusively pursue this new technique. Frustrated with the limitations of photography and its ‘one eyed’ approach, however,[25] he returned to painting.

Later work[edit] In 1976, at Atelier Crommelynck, Hockney created a portfolio of 20 etchings, The Blue Guitar: Etchings By David Hockney Who Was Inspired By Wallace Stevens Who Was Inspired By Pablo Picasso.[26] The etchings refer to themes in a poem by Wallace Stevens, “The Man With The Blue Guitar”. It was published by Petersburg Press in October 1977. That year, Petersburg also published a book, in which the images were accompanied by the poem’s text.[27]

Hockney was commissioned to design the cover and pages for the December 1985 issue of the French edition of Vogue. Consistent with his interest in cubism and admiration for Pablo Picasso, Hockney chose to paint Celia Birtwell (who appears in several of his works) from different views, as if the eye had scanned her face diagonally.

In December 1985, Hockney used the Quantel Paintbox, a computer program that allowed the artist to sketch directly onto the screen. Using the program was similar to drawing on the PET film for prints, with which he had much experience. The resulting work was featured in a BBC series that profiled a number of artists.

His artwork was used on the cover of the 1989 British Telecom telephone directory for Bradford.

Hockney returned more frequently to Yorkshire in the 1990s, usually every three months, to visit his mother[28] who died in 1999. He rarely stayed for more than two weeks until 1997,[28] when his friend Jonathan Silver who was terminally ill encouraged him to capture the local surroundings. He did this at first with paintings based on memory, some from his boyhood. Hockney returned to Yorkshire for longer and longer stays, and by 2005 was painting the countryside en plein air.[28] He set up residence and an immense redbrick seaside studio, a converted industrial workspace, in the seaside town of Bridlington, about 75 miles from where he was born.[29] The oil paintings he produced after 2005 were influenced by his intensive studies in watercolour (for over a year in 2003–2004).[30] He created paintings made of multiple smaller canvases—nine, 15 or more—placed together. To help him visualize work at that scale, he used digital photographic reproductions; each day’s work was photographed, and Hockney generally took a photographic print home.[28]

In June 2007, Hockney’s largest painting, Bigger Trees Near Warter, which measures 15 feet by 40 feet, was hung in the Royal Academy’s largest gallery in its annual Summer Exhibition.[31] This work “is a monumental-scale view of a coppice in Hockney’s native Yorkshire, between Bridlington and York. It was painted on 50 individual canvases, mostly working in situ, over five weeks last winter.”[32] In 2008, he donated it to the Tate Gallery in London, saying: “I thought if I’m going to give something to the Tate I want to give them something really good. It’s going to be here for a while. I don’t want to give things I’m not too proud of … I thought this was a good painting because it’s of England … it seems like a good thing to do.”[33] The painting was the subject of a BBC1 Imagine film documentary by Bruno Wollheim called David Hockney: A Bigger Picture’ (2009) which followed Hockney as he worked outdoors over the preceding two years.

Since 2009, Hockney has painted hundreds of portraits, still lifes and landscapes using the Brushes iPhone[34] and iPad[35] application, often sending them to his friends.[35] His show Fleurs fraîches (Fresh flowers) was held at La Fondation Pierre Bergé in Paris. A Fresh-Flowers exhibit opened in 2011 at the Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto, featuring more than 100 of his drawings on 25 iPads and 20 iPods.[36] In late 2011, Hockney revisited California to paint Yosemite National Park on his iPad.[37] For the season 2012–2013 in the Vienna State Opera he designed, on his iPad, a large scale picture (176 sqm) as part of the exhibition series Safety Curtain, conceived by museum in progress.

In September 2016 Hockney announced the issue of a new book David Hockney: A Bigger Book, scheduled to be published in October by Benedikt Taschen and costing £1,750 (£3,500 with an added loose print). The book, weighing almost 70lbs, had gone through 19 proof stages.[15]

Set designs[edit] Hockney’s first opera designs, for Stravinsky’s The Rake’s Progress at the Glyndebourne Festival Opera in England in 1975 and The Magic Flute (1978) were painted drops.[38] In 1981, he agreed to design sets and costumes for three 20th-century French works at the Metropolitan Opera House with the title Parade. The works were Parade, a ballet with music by Erik Satie; Les mamelles de Tirésias, an opera with libretto by Guillaume Apollinaire and music by Francis Poulenc, and L’enfant et les sortilèges, an opera with libretto by Colette and music by Maurice Ravel.[39] The set for L’enfant et les sortilèges is a permanent installation at the Spalding House branch of the Honolulu Museum of Art. He designed sets for Puccini’s Turandot in 1991 at the Chicago Lyric Opera and a Richard Strauss Die Frau ohne Schatten in 1992 at the Royal Opera House in London.[38] In 1994, he designed costumes and scenery for twelve opera arias for the TV broadcast of Plácido Domingo’s Operalia in Mexico City. Technical advances allowed him to become increasingly complex in model-making. At his studio he had a proscenium opening 6 feet (1.8 m) by 4 feet (1.2 m) in which he built sets in 1:8 scale. He also used a computerized setup that let him punch in and program lighting cues at will and synchronize them to a soundtrack of the music.[38]

Exhibitions[edit] Hockney had his first one-man show when he was 26 in 1963, and by 1970 the Whitechapel Gallery in London had organized the first of several major retrospectives, which subsequently travelled to three European institutions.[40] In 2004, he was included in the cross-generational Whitney Biennial, where his portraits appeared in a gallery with those of a younger artist he had inspired, Elizabeth Peyton.[4]

In October 2006, the National Portrait Gallery in London organized one of the largest ever displays of Hockney’s portraiture work, including 150 paintings, drawings, prints, sketchbooks, and photocollages from over five decades. The collection ranged from his earliest self-portraits to work he completed in 2005. Hockney assisted in displaying the works and the exhibition, which ran until January 2007, was one of the gallery’s most successful. In 2009, “David Hockney: Just Nature” attracted some 100,000 visitors at the Kunsthalle Würth in Schwäbisch Hall, Germany.[28]

A Bigger Picture at the Royal Academy in 2012
From 21 January 2012 to 9 April 2012, the Royal Academy presented A Bigger Picture,[41] which included more than 150 works, many of which take entire walls in the gallery’s brightly lit rooms. The exhibition is dedicated to landscapes, especially trees and tree tunnels.[42] Works include oil paintings and watercolours inspired by his native Yorkshire. Around 50 drawings were created on an iPad[43] and printed on paper. Hockney said, in a 2012 interview, “It’s about big things. You can make paintings bigger. We’re also making photographs bigger, videos bigger, all to do with drawing.”[44] The exhibition moved to the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, Spain from 15 May to 30 September, and from there to the Ludwig Museum in Cologne, Germany, between 27 October 2012 and 3 February 2013.[45]

From 26 October 2013 to 30 January 2014 David Hockney: A Bigger Exhibition was presented at the de Young Museum, one of the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, showing work since 2002 and including Photoshop portraits, multi-canvas oils, iPad landscapes and digital movies shot with multiple cameras.[46]

‘Hockney, Printmaker’, curated by Richard Lloyd, International Head of Prints at Christie’s, was the first major exhibition to focus on Hockney’s prolific career as a printmaker.[47] The exhibition ran from 5 February 2014 to 11 May 2014 at Dulwich Picture Gallery before going on tour to The Bowes Museum, Barnard Castle.[48][49]

Collections[edit] Many of Hockney’s works are housed in Salts Mill, in Saltaire, near his home town of Bradford. Writer Christopher Isherwood’s collection is considered the most important private collection of his work. In the 1990s, Isherwood’s long-time partner Don Bachardy donated the collection to a foundation. His work is in numerous public and private collections worldwide, including:

Honolulu Museum of Art
Museum of Fine Arts, Boston
National Gallery of Australia, Canberra
Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, Humlebæk, Denmark
Art Institute of Chicago
National Portrait Gallery, London
Kennedy Museum of Art, Athens, Ohio
Tate Gallery, London
J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles
Los Angeles County Museum of Art
Walker Art Center, Minneapolis
Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York
Museum of Modern Art, New York
Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris
Philadelphia Museum of Art
De Young Museum, San Francisco
Museum of Contemporary Art, Tokyo
MUMOK, Vienna
Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington, D.C.
Smithsonian American Art Museum, Washington, D.C.[30] Recognition[edit] In 1967, Hockney’s painting, Peter Getting Out Of Nick’s Pool, won the John Moores Painting Prize at the Walker Art Gallery in Liverpool. Hockney was offered a knighthood in 1990 but declined, before accepting an Order of Merit in January 2012.[50][51] He was awarded The Royal Photographic Society’s Progress medal in 1988[52] and the Special 150th Anniversary Medal and Honorary Fellowship (HonFRPS) in recognition of a sustained, significant contribution to the art of photography in 2003.[53][54] He was made a Companion of Honour in 1997[55] and is a Royal Academician.[56] In 2012, Queen Elizabeth II appointed him to the Order of Merit, an honour restricted to 24 members at any one time for their contributions to the arts and sciences.[29]

He was a Distinguished Honoree of the National Arts Association, Los Angeles, in 1991 and received the First Annual Award of Achievement from the Archives of American Art, Los Angeles, in 1993. He was appointed to the Board of Trustees of the American Associates of the Royal Academy Trust, New York in 1992 and was given a Foreign Honorary Membership to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, Cambridge, Massachusetts in 1997. In 2003, Hockney was awarded the Lorenzo de’ Medici Lifetime Career Award of the Florence Biennale, Italy.[57]

Commissioned by The Other Art Fair, a November 2011 poll of 1,000 British painters and sculptors declared him Britain’s most influential artist of all time.[58] In 2012, Hockney was among the British cultural icons selected by artist Sir Peter Blake to appear in a new version of his most famous artwork – the Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band album cover – to celebrate the British cultural figures of his life that he most admires.[59][60]

Art market[edit]

A Bigger Grand Canyon, 1998, National Gallery of Australia.
From 1963, Hockney has been represented by art dealer John Kasmin, as well as by Annely Juda Fine Art, London. On 21 June 2006, Hockney’s painting, The Splash sold for £2.6 million.[61] His A Bigger Grand Canyon, a series of 60 paintings that combined to produce one enormous picture, was bought by the National Gallery of Australia for $4.6 million. Beverly Hills Housewife (1966–67), a 12-foot-long acrylic that depicts the collector Betty Freeman standing by her pool in a long hot-pink dress, sold for $7.9 million at Christie’s in New York in 2008, the top lot of the sale and a record price for a Hockney.[4] This was topped in 2016 when his Woldgate Woods landscape made £9.4 million at auction.[62]

The Hockney–Falco thesis[edit] Main article: Hockney–Falco thesis
In the 2001 television programme and book, Secret Knowledge, Hockney posited that the Old Masters used camera obscura techniques that projected the image of the subject onto the surface of the painting. Hockney argues that this technique migrated gradually to Italy and most of Europe, and is the reason for the photographic style of painting we see in the Renaissance and later periods of art. He published his conclusions in the 2001 book “Secret Knowledge: Rediscovering the Lost Techniques of the Old Masters,” which was revised in 2006.[4]

David Hockney Foundation[edit] In 2012, Hockney, worth an estimated $55.2 million (approx. £36.1 m) transferred paintings valued at $124.2 million (approx. £81.5 m) to the David Hockney Foundation, and gave an additional $1.2 million (approx. £0.79 m) in cash to help fund the foundation’s operations. The artist plans to give away the paintings, through the foundation, to galleries including the Los Angeles County Museum of Art and the Tate in London.[76]

Books by Hockney[edit] 72 Drawings (1971), Jonathan Cape, London, ISBN 0-224-00655-X
David Hockney (1976), Thames & Hudson, London, ISBN 0-500-09108-0
Travels with Pen, Pencil and Ink (1978), Petersburg Press, New York, ISBN 0-902825-07-0
Pictures by David Hockney (ed. Nikos Stangos) (1979), Thames and Hudson, London, ISBN 0-500-27163-1
Blue Guitar: Etchings by David Hockney Who Was Inspired by Wallace Stevens Who Was Inspired by Pablo Picasso (1977), Petersburg Press, New York, ISBN 0-902825-03-8
Travels with Pen, Pencil and Ink (1980), Tate Gallery, London ISBN 0-905005-58-9
Photographs (1982), Petersburg Press, New York, ISBN 0-902825-15-1
Hockney’s Photographs (1983), Arts Council of Great Britain, London, ISBN 0-7287-0382-3
Martha’s Vineyard and other places: My Third Sketchbook from the Summer of 1982 (with Nikos Stangos), (1985), Thames and Hudson, London, ISBN 0-500-23446-9
David Hockney: Faces 1966–1984 (1987), Thames and Hudson, London, ISBN 0-500-27464-9
Hockney’s Alphabet (with Stephen Spender) (1991) Random House, London, ISBN 0-679-41066-X
David Hockney: Some Very New Paintings (Intro by William Hardie) (1993), William Hardie Gallery, Glasgow, ISBN 1-872878-03-2
Off the Wall: A Collection of David Hockney’s Posters 1987–94 (with Brian Baggott) (1994), Pavilion Books, ISBN 1-85793-421-0
Picasso (1999), Galerie Lelong ISBN 2-86882-026-3
Une éducation artistique(1999), Galerie Lelong ISBN 2-86882-028-X
Hockney’s Pictures (2006), Thames and Hudson, London, ISBN 0-500-28671-X
David Hockney: Poster Art (1995), Chronicle Books, ISBN 0-8118-0915-3
That’s the Way I See It (with Nikos Stangos) (1989), Thames and Hudson, London, ISBN 0-500-28085-1
Secret Knowledge: Rediscovering the lost techniques of the Old Masters (2006), Thames and Hudson, London, ISBN 0-500-28638-8
Hockney On Art: Conversations with Paul Joyce (2008), Little, Brown and Company, New York, ISBN 1-4087-0157-X
David Hockney’s Dog Days (2011), Thames and Hudson, London, ISBN 0-500-28627-2
A Yorkshire Sketchbook (2011), Royal Academy of Arts, London, ISBN 1-907533-23-0

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia


Saturday, December 17, 2016 – 5:30pm to Saturday, January 28, 2017 – 4:00pm
We touch, taste, smell, hear, and see the world around us, assembling our notions of what is though our five senses. Sharing those impressions, we develop a social consensus of reality and orient around the surety of that consensus.

A valued function of the artist is to offer alternative interpretations of what is by modelling what-might-be. Those models present innovative ways of perceiving, thinking, and responding to our changing environments.

Manipulations of light and space often take form in sculpture, painting, or film. Transmogrified by composer or author, sound becomes story, poetry, or music,.

Cathy Cunningham-Little questions not so much what we see, but how we see. Inspired by her father’s vivid descriptions of inner vision – hallucinations generated during descent into blindness – Cathy manipulates light, the elemental stuff from which we create so many of our assumptions regarding a solid world around us.

Changes in perception are often interpreted as harbingers of insanity: the loss of an agreement with others regarding the nature of reality. However, the destabilization of that agreement is an essential source of innovation – the moment when a stick becomes an arrow – through human imagination.

Allow a moment for Fleeting Glances/Self Reflections to transport you through the doors of perception, where the elements of light coalesce to create transcendent human experience.

Big Island, Hawaii