Press Releases

The Akron Art Museum Presents Edward Weston: Life Work

For Release: January 2009

Akron, Ohio, January 5, 2009 — Edward Weston: Life Work, on view at the Akron Art Museum January 31 – April 26, 2009, surveys the five-decade career of this American master through an outstanding grouping of over 100 vintage photographs. Astonishingly, all the works are from the collection of one couple, New York photography collectors Michael Mattis and Judith Hochberg. Weston, who was one of the greatest photographic printers of the 20th century, often reserved his choicest prints for family and close friends. Mattis and Hochberg managed to acquire many works – in fact, most of the prints in this exhibition – directly from members of the Weston family.

“This exhibition makes it clear why Hochberg and Mattis consider Weston ‘the Picasso of the camera.’ We get to see not just Weston’s signature images, but also a number of previously unpublished masterpieces,” says Dr. Barbara Tannenbaum, director of curatorial affairs at the Akron Art Museum. “The amazing range and depth of Mattis and Hochberg’s collection gives us a fresh look at Weston’s art and broadens our understanding of his thought process.”

To see a chronological survey of Weston’s art “is to witness a purposeful and heroic shelling away of subjective addenda, of all the trimming that, to the average observer, transmutes a photograph into a work of art,” wrote painter Jean Charlot. Weston’s striking 1909 outdoor Pictorialist study of his wife Flora is perhaps his first nude. His famous image of Armco Steel in Middletown, Ohio, 1922, marked his final break from the confines of Pictorialism and studio work, and announced the emergence of a sharply focused style. In the mid-1920s, Weston unleashed his newly spare approach to photography in Mexico with Heaped Black Ollas and his famous image of a toilet, Excusado. Returning to Glendale in 1926, he continued to experiment with pure form and disconcerting scale shifts in his long exposures of shells, peppers, mushrooms, radishes and kelp. These memorable still lifes, which Weston termed “quintessences,” segue naturally into a remarkable set of sculptural nudes done between 1933 and 1934.

Subsequently, Weston pulled back and loosened up his style considerably as he turned to the open landscape. This exhibition includes an important suite of six dune studies made near Oceano, California in 1934 and 1936. In addition to landscapes and studies of desert detritus made with the support of a Guggenheim grant, portraits of prominent artistic and literary figures are also well represented. The exhibition concludes with Weston's consummate final photograph, nicknamed The Dody Rocks, 1948.

Whether exploring still life, the human face, the landscape or the nude, it is the picture—its composition, style, mood and technique—that is Weston’s subject. Weston’s goal is not a literal recording; it is depicting the object “in its deepest moment of perception,” when it reveals the photographer as well as the photographed. Viewing this exhibition, you will realize that Weston’s prints are not merely black and white. Dody Weston Thompson has described how they, “shine with a mysterious inner light, arousing a sensuous response to their print quality alone: the blacks seemed rich as oil or deep as velvet, a thousand intermediate grays gleamed out—soft pewters, glinting silvers—and at the upper end of the scale were whipped cream, pearls and sunlight.”

All works are from the collection of Michael Mattis and Judith Hochberg.

This exhibition was organized by art2art Circulating Exhibitions. Its presentation in Akron is made possible by exclusive sponsorship from Akron Community Foundation.

Weston Book and Video

An accompanying award-winning monograph published by Lodima Press contains insightful essays by Sarah M. Lowe and Dody Weston Thompson, as well as “his and hers” collectors' prefaces by Hochberg and Mattis. Featuring full-size reproductions printed in 600 line-screen quadtone on two different paper stocks for maximum fidelity to the originals, it is acknowledged as the most beautiful book ever published on Weston.

Also accompanying this exhibition is a 30-minute video, Remembering Edward Weston, featuring interviews with Charis Wilson (his wife), sons Brett and Cole Weston, Beaumont Newhall and Dody Weston Thompson.

Video courtesy the Museum of New Mexico.

Exhibition-Related Events

Art History 101 Mini Series: Focus on Photography
February 12, March 12 and April 9, 6:30 – 8:30 pm
Why do we take pictures? From tiny family snapshots to massive glossy photographs mounted on gallery walls, photography is an art form that penetrates the lives of art aficionados and novices alike. This three session mini course, taught by photographer Bruce Checefsky (February 12 , April 9) and the Akron Art Museum’s Barbara Tannenbaum (March 12), will provide an overview of photographic history, and encourage amateur and professional photographers, collectors and scrapbook enthusiasts to consider the history of photography as both a subject and source of inspiration. For more information please call 330.376.9186 x229 or x230.

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Media Contact

Dominic Caruso
Design, Marketing and Communications Coordinator
Phone: 330.376.9186 x229

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