Wednesday, August 25, 2010

A 20th Century Master of Forms and Shapes

In college our drawing instructor projected a blurred image on a screen. The image was unidentifiable so that the students could not assume shape or form as they drew it. Slowly, the instructor sharpened the image as we students feverishly worked to modify our drawings based on changing information. Finally, the image came into view. It was Edward Weston's iconic photograph of a sea shell. After that, I searched to know more about him.

Edward Weston (1886-1958) was born at a time when photography was becoming available to a wider audience - thanks to the inventions of George Eastman (Eastman Kodak). For it was on Weston's 16th birthday that he would receive his first camera - a Kodak box camera. He was hooked.

At age 20, Weston's photograph titled, Spring, Chicago would be published in a full-page spread in the magazine Camera and Darkroom. He would become a recognized and respected portrait photographer in Glendale, CA. However, he wanted to grow artistically so he raised the money to go to New York. He wanted to study with the foremost photographer of the age - Alfred Stieglitz.

Weston was encouraged by Stieglitz and his wife, Georgia O' Keeffe as well as other artists and photographers to continue his exploration of abstract modernism. This would lead to Weston to his most famous period wherein he photographed vegetables in a sculptural form.

Below are some of his vegetables works. While admiring the beauty of forms, can you identify the objects?


  1. This is Fun! I recognize his famous pepper and also I think the one below is a mushroom. I absolutely love his nautilus series and am really enjoying seeing his veggie series.

  2. Let's see: a pepper, flower from a cucumber, mushroom, red cabbage, parsnips and artichoke??

  3. Well, being the third to comment I can see what others said about the photos of the veggies. I agree that the first is a pepper,I don't recognize the next one.The next row down, I believe is a mushroom then bok choy, next row is parsnip??? and then an artichoke.
    Did I at least get a passing grade??
    Thanks for sharing these, they are great1

  4. All of his shapes are beautiful sculptures. The way he saw "light plays" were, by far, one of his greatest gifts.
    I used to have a Weston Light Meter for my 35mm film camera; you know he had a lot to do with that....A superb light meter! Weston was truly a giant among photographers.
    And a pretty good eye for the veggies, too! :o)

  5. Thanks, Prof... great blog! Connie

  6. Hi,

    Hey, thanks for trying to figure out what the subject was. The answers are: (1st row)Bell Pepper/Cabbage, (2nd row)Mushroom/Chard and (3rd row) White Radish/Artichoke.

    To the brave souls who actually put their guesses "out there " I say "hooray for you!" R. A.