Edward Weston’s work visits APU as a reminder of his lasting impact on the art of photography

Though Edward Weston has been gone for over 60 years, the images he captured throughout his life continue to make a huge impact on modern photography.

Lining the walls of Duke Art Gallery L, black-and-white headshots and portraits surround the viewers of the art show. These photographs focus on the people captured in the photo as they display the style that Weston used to leave his footprint in photography history.

Friday, Jan. 18 marked the opening reception of the “Perpetual Art Show.” The exhibit contains a variety of photographs all captured by Edward Weston, a photographer from the early 20th century who figured among other pioneers in modernist art. Kent Anderson Butler, a professor in the Department of Art, explained that all the art was on loan from the Inland Empire Museum of Art.

Despite the historical value and the art’s high quality, the exhibit did not attract many people on its opening night.

Weston’s work displayed at Duke Art Gallery L. Photo by Candelario Plascencia.

“[Weston] was one of the key physical figures in the history of photography,” Butler said. “This body of work all comes from when he had his studio in Glendale in the early 1900s to the 1940s. It’s a very important exhibition just because he’s such an important figure in photography.”

Weston was born on March 24, 1886 in Highland Park, Illinois. Growing up in Chicago, he began his career at age 16 when he received a camera from his father. His first photographs took place on his aunt’s farm in the parks of Chicago.

After Weston’s first publication in “Camera and Darkroom,” he moved to California. He married his first wife, Flora Chandler, in 1909 and had four children with her. The same year that his second child was born, Weston opened up his own portrait studio in Tropico, California.

In 1912, Weston met fellow photographer Margrethe Mather in one of his studios, and she became his studio assistant and a model for some of his work. In 1923, Weston decided to move to Mexico City where he opened a photographic studio with Tima Modotti, his apprentice at the time.

Three years later, he moved back to California and was part of an association of photographers called Group f/64. Members included Weston, his son Brett Weston, Ansel Adams, Imogen Cunningham and others from the Bay Area. All of these artists centered on sharply focused and highly detailed photography.

The group introduced their work at an exhibition at San Francisco’s DeYoung Museum. The exhibit remains there today in honor of Weston and the group.

Some of Weston’s most famous work consists of landscape, still life and nude photos. He was the first photographer to ever receive a John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Fellowship, a grant awarded to those who succeed in their creative art.

Nearing the close of his successful career, Weston was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease in 1946 and captured his last photo in 1948. He passed away in 1958.

Weston’s artwork continues to inspire those who come to admire his work, as well as his family and grandchildren.

One of Weston’s portraits from the exhibition. Photo by Candelario Plascencia.

Weston’s granddaughter Cara Weston said that growing up with his photographs on the walls of her home has made a huge impact on her.

“I worked for my father for years, and one time my father asked me to proof print some of Edward’s negatives, and I will never forget that day being in the darkroom, immersed in so many wonderful images,” Weston wrote in an email. “I think the way I look at subjects to this day has much to do with the years of viewing my grandfather’s images.”

Andrew Rein, a sophomore kinesiology major, visited Weston’s exhibition on its opening night. Rein said he enjoyed his work because it differs from the styles many modern photographers adopt.

“It’s more based on the actual person rather than the surrounding,” Rein said. “It’s more about the uniqueness of every person.”

The exhibit will remain open in Duke Art Gallery L until March 1.