Post #1038 • August 23, 2007, 10:01 PM • 27 Comments
Los Angeles - Recently Studiosavant featured an interview with Clement Greenberg in which he said:
...what I've noticed about good photography is that a good photograph always has some evidence of humanity in it. So you can get a good photograph of a road because humans have built the road. And here's where the subject matter determines everything and not formal qualities.
The interviewer suggested Edward Weston as a counterexample. Greenberg didn't bite. "He's too arty. I don't like his stuff."
Anyone still confused about whether Greenberg formed his opinions a priori or a posteriori [Latin corrected, thank you, Hovig - F.] need look no further. As for Weston, artiness proves no great liability while looking back on his work at a time when photography embraces the phoniest contrivances. With 150 photos on display in Edward Weston: Enduring Vision, spanning his varied career and including his wide circle of fellow photographers, something will assuredly land favorably on your eye.
Greenberg may have gotten it right about the medium, at least as it relates to this artist. As much as I enjoy the landscapes, the vegetable images and still lifes have no virtues not also present in the nudes, fourfold. The female form agreed with Weston's temperament. This shows in the work, and it shows in the curatorial effort, which included runs of redoubtable photos by Tina Modotti, Betty Katz, Imogen Cunningham, Sonya Noskowiak, Nata Piaskowski, and Margrethe Mather, noting the romantic entanglements along the way, which finally grow too numerous to track. Throw in the males, Ansel Adams, Minor White, Fred Sommer, son Brett Weston, and more, and you get the impression that Weston's circle comprises the whole of early- to mid-20th Century American photography, whose aficionados will not want to miss this exhibition.