Earlier this month I went to the Edinburgh City Art Centre to see the Edward Weston Photography exhibition. This is the first time I've gone to see an exhibition whilst studying in a related area so had to put my "student head" on and try to look at the work a bit more critically. Normally when I go to see something like this it's purely for enjoyment or out of interest.
Edinburgh Art Centre is the only UK showing of this exhibition and is the largest display of the photographers work ever to be seen in Britain. There are 117 vintage prints from all phases of his career. Some of the prints are his signature prints e.g. Pepper No.30 which features heavily in all the advertising material and other prints are of his previously unpublished images.
|Pepper No.30 1930|
The images in the exhibition are split into categories to illustrate how his photographic style developed over the years. They commence with his early works which include portraits of his wife and sons. Many of these images have a blurry, foggy look about them, softly lit and focused and took me by surprise. At the time they were taken, around 1911, I'm sure there was a great deal of craftsmanship involved but to me they were a bit ordinary. They lack the wow factor of his later images. Further categories of his work displayed include images of Mexico, Nudes, Early and some superb Late Landscapes but it was the Still Life category that I mused over for longest. (Like most people I suspect).
|Flora Chandler 1910|
|Dunes, Oceano 1936|
Most of these images were taken from the 1920's onwards and show how he was a master of studying form. The images are all beautifully composed and printed. Many of the items photographed are everyday items found in many homes at the time e.g. hard boiled eggs and an egg slicer or of organic structures such as vegetables and shells. Weston took all the images with a large format camera with only the available light and each image is the original size and print. Every photograph is sharp throughout, there is no blurring around the edges or shallow depth of field shots. You might think this would make them like "record" shots but you can see every tone and texture of the object. The images of peppers almost looked muscular like a human form and could have easily been an image of a sculpture.
|Nautilus Shell 1927|
There is a certain style about each image that is consistent. Predominately the still life images were framed centrally with a black or dark background. The images are framed quite tightly with little space around the object so you are totally drawn to the subject. Every minute detail of the object is visible and in focus, each image is the study of the form of the subject.
It's not surprising that Weston is regarded as a master of 20th century photography and a pioneer in creative photography. The exhibition runs until 24th October and if I get a chance I'll be going back to take another look. You can view his work on http://www.edward-weston.com/ and find at more about the exhibition from http://www.edinburghmuseums.org.uk/Venues/City-Art-Centre.aspx.
Images reproduced courtesy of Bridgeman Education.