EDWARD HENRY WESTON, 1886 – 1958
A Detailed Chronology, Compiled and Edited by Dick Rinehart
Edward Henry Weston is born March 24, in Highland Park, Illinois.
Parents: Dr. Edward Burbank Weston (1846 – 1918) – Obstetrician, Alice Jeanette Brett (1851 – 1892) – Shakespearean Actress.
January 25: Edward’s mother dies. Alice Jeanette’s dying wish is that Edward become a businessman and not an educator or doctor in the family tradition. He is raised by his sister, Mary “May” Jeanette Weston (1877 – 1952).
August 20: Edward is given his first camera by his father while summering on his aunt’s farm in Michigan. Camera type: Kodak Bulls-Eye No. 2 3.5” x 3.5” format (12 exposures).
Edward drops out of school and never returns. He follows his mother’s wishes and works for three years as an errand boy and salesman for his uncle, Theodore Brett, at Marshall Field & Company in Chicago.
Edward’s sister, May, moves to Tropico, California.
Edward’s first photograph is published in the April issue of Camera and Darkroom. Photograph: “Spring, 1903.”
May 29: Edward arrives in Tropico, California to visit May. He decides to stay and California becomes his home for the rest of his life.
May’s husband, John Seaman (1877 – 1961), arranges a job for Edward as a surveyor by the San Pedro, Los Angeles and Salt Lake Railroad for $15 a week.
Edward quits his railroad job to become an itinerant photographer, working door-to-door.
Edward returns east to attend the Illinois College of Photography in Effington, Illinois. He completes the 9-month program in 6-months. Edward learns darkroom techniques he will use for the rest of his photographic life.
Edward returns to California and works as a retoucher for George Steckel Portrait Studio in Los Angeles.
January 30: Edward marries Flora May Chandler (1879 – 1965).
Edward leaves George Strekel Studio and is hired by Louis A. Mojoiner Portrait Studio in Los Angeles, as a negative retoucher and photographer.
April 26: Edward’s first son, Edward Chandler Weston (1910 – 1995), is born. He is called Chan.
Edward builds his first photographic studio for $600 at 113 Brand Boulevard in Tropico, on land owned by Flora’s parents. This will be Edward’s base of operations for the next two decades.
December 16: Edward’s second son, Theodore Brett Weston (1911 – 1993), is born. He is called Brett.
Edward begins submitting work to national and international photography salons. He gains a reputation for high key portraits and modern dance studies. By the end of the decade, he garners more than 30 awards.
Autumn: Edward meets Margrethe Mather (1886 – 1952), when she stopped at his Tropico studio. Mather becomes Edward’s business assistant, partner, model and lover over the next decade. Edward will later describe her as, “the first important person in my life.”
May: Edward and Margrethe Mather help found the camera club, Camera Pictorialists of Los Angeles.
Edward begins his personal journals, the “Daybooks.”
Edward travels to the Panama-Pacific International Exposition in San Francisco. He wins a Bronze Medal for his photograph: Child Study in Gray. Edward is also exposed to the European avant-garde works of Cezanne, Rodin, Picasso and Matisse.
December 6: Edward’s third son, Lawrence Neil Weston (1916 – 1998), is born. He is called Neil.
Edward travels to Cleveland, Ohio to demonstrate his printing techniques to the National Convention of the Professional Photographer’s Association.
Edward is elected to the London Salon of Photography. It is acknowledged as the highest honor in pictorialism. Of its 37 members, at the time, only 6 are from the United States and Edward is the only member on the west coast.
February: Edward meets photographer, Johan Hagemeyer (1884 – 1962), in his Tropico studio. They become very close friends for the next two decades.
January 30: Edward’s fourth son, Cole Weston (1919 – 2003), is born.
With Margrethe Mather’s connections to the Los Angeles Bohemian community, Edward meets Tina Modotti (1896 – 1942), Roubaix de l’Abrie Richey (1890 – 1922), Ramiel McGehee (1885 -1943), Miriam Lerner and Betty Katz-Brandner (1895 – 1982) among others.
Edward ceases submitting work to photographic salons and begins his transition to modernism.
“Prologue to a Sad Spring, 1919”
Edward experiments using cubist, abstract angles in combinations with advancing and receding light as a subject. These technique result in what Edward calls his “Attic” series.
“Ramiel in His Attic, 1920”
“The Ascent on Attic Angles, 1921”
“Sunny Corner In An Attic, 1921”
“Betty in Her Attic, 1921”
Margrethe Mather becomes an equal partner in Edward’s Tropico studio. Portraits and other personal work is dated and signed by both Edward and Mather. It is the only time in his photographic career Edward shares credit.
Tina Modotti becomes Edward’s primary model and lover. Edward’s most significant image of Tina, at this time, is titled “White Iris.”
March 9: An exhibition of Edward’s work opens at the Academia de Bellas Art, in Mexico City. It is organized by Tina Modotti’s husband, Roubaix de l’Abrie Richey.
October: Edward travels east to visit his sister, May, in Middletown, Ohio. His brother-in-law, John Seaman, takes him to see the American Rolling Mill Company – ARMCO Steel. Edward creates one of his most lasting images: “Pipes and Stacks, Armco Steel, 1922.”
November: Edward continues east to New York, to meet photographer, Alfred Stieglitz (1864 – 1946). His meeting with Stieglitz confirms the modernist direction of Edward’s work.
January: Edward leaves his wife and moves into his Tropico studio with Tina Modotti.
July: Edward creates a nude series of Margrethe Mather on Redondo Beach. These images will be his best selling photographs in Mexico.
Prior to leaving for Mexico, Edward destroys his “Daybooks” dating back to 1915.
July 29: Edward, Tina and 12-year old Chandler Weston departs San Pedro, California docks aboard the S.S. Colima bound for Mexico.
Edward and Tina set up a portrait studio in Tacubaya, for a brief period, before settling into a permanent studio in Mexico City.
August 23: Llewelyn Bixby-Smith (1901 – 1951), the son of Edward’s cousin, Sarah Bixby-Smith (1871-1935), arrives in Mexico. He is apprenticed to Edward.
Chandler begins using Edward’s Graflex camera, the first of Edward’s sons, to learn photography. Before leaving Mexico, Chandler has a personal portfolio of 43 photographs.
Edward is introduced, by Tina, to the artists of the Mexican Renaissance. These artists include: Diego Rivera (1886 – 1957), Jean Charlot (1898 – 1979), Jose Clemente Orozco (1883 0 1949), David Alfaro Siqueiros (1896 – 1974) and Xavier Gurrero (1896 – 1974).
Edward begins a series that will extend throughout his stay in Mexico. These unposed portraits use the head as a sculptured object he calls “heroic heads.” Most occupy three-quarters of the photographic surface.
Photographs from the series:
“Nahui Olin, 1923”
“Guadalupe Marin, 1923”
“Manuel Hernandez Galvan,1924”
“Tina Reciting Poetry, 1924”
“Rose Roland de Covarrubias, 1926”
October 22 – November 4: Edward’s work is exhibited at the Aztec Land Gallery, Mexico City. He sells 8 prints; 6 being nudes of Margrethe Mather from the Redondo Beach series .
October 15-31: A second exhibition of Edward’s work at the Aztec Land Gallery, Mexico City. All 70 photographs on display were created during the first year of his Mexico sojourn.
December 31: Edward and Chandler leave Mexico and return to the United States.
January: After a brief stay in his Tropico studio Edward moves north, to San Francisco and sets up a portrait studio with Johan Hagemeyer. Over the following six-months his most productive work is two nude series using Miriam Lerner and his eight year-old son, Neil, as models.
August 21: Edward and his 13-year old son, Brett, sail for Mexico aboard the S.S. Oaxaca.
August 27: A 10-day exhibition of Edward’s work, organized by Tina, is presented at the Jalisco State Museum in Guadalajara. The Governor, Jose Guadalupe Zuno, purchases 6 prints for the Museum.
October: Edward’s new work in Mexico includes: Excusado (toilet), still-life of juguetes (Mexican toys) and pulquerias (saloons).
March: Brett becomes the second of Edward’s sons to learn photography. With brief instructions in use of his dad’s Graflex camera, Brett begins a photographic career that extends for 6-decades.
May 14: Edward signs a contract with Anita Brenner (1905 – 1974), to illustrate her book, Idols Behind Altars. The contract, for $500, requires 4 finished prints from no more than 200 8×10 negatives. The project requires Edward, Tina and Brett to travel to little known areas of Mexico. Sculptures and native arts and crafts are the primary subjects. Edward also accepted $500 from Arquitecto magazine for an additional 230 negatives, to be worked on, concurrently.
Idols Behind Altars and Arquitecto magazine trips:
June 3 – July 3: Eastern leg of travel produce 110 – negatives.
July 18 – August 26: Western leg of travel produces 150 – negatives.
September 14 – November 6: Various travel locations produces the final 140-negatives required for the project
November: Edward and Brett leave Mexico and returns to Glendale, (formerly Tropico) California.
February 14: Edward meets, Canadian born post-impressionist painter Henrietta Shore (1880 – 1963). Edward is influenced by her paintings of shells. He borrows several of her chambered nautilus shells to photograph.
February 26: Edward and Brett open a dual exhibition at University of California. This is Brett’s first exhibition, at 15 – years old. 100 prints of Edward’s are hanging with 20 of Brett’s.
March: Edward begins a nude series of his friend, Christel Gang (1892 – 1966). The static nude, of her back are reminiscent in texture to the porcelain, Excusado (toilet) series in Mexico.
March: Edward begins working with Henrietta Shore’s chambered nautilus. Negative S1, “Shell, 1927,” was the first image of this classic shell series. Exposure: 4-5 hours at f/256.
March – April: Edward begins a second nude series of avant-garde dancer Bertha Wardell (1896 – 1974). This series, known as the “Dancing Nudes,” is shot over a three week period and includes 24 negatives.
July 16: Ramiel McGehee and Christel Gang begin editing Edward’s “Daybooks,” from Mexico, for possible publication.
August: Portions of the “Daybooks” are published for the first time in Creative Art Magazine.
August 25: Edward writes in his “Daybooks” he has begun working with peppers for the first time. The series will eventfully total 43 negatives shot over a three year period. Edward will eventually destroy 11 negatives from the series.
July: Edward closes his Glendale studio and moves to Johan Hagemeyer’s studio at 117 Post Street in San Francisco.
January 3: Edward meets Bauhaus architect and designer Richard Neutra. He is asked to curate the west coast photography contribution to the Deutsche Werkbund Film un Foto exhibition in Stuttgart.
January 7: Edward moves to Johan Hagemeyer’s studio in Carmel to be closer to nature. He places a sign in studio window that states, “Edward Weston Photographer, Unretouched Portraits, Prints for Collectors.” Edward meets Sonya Noskowiak (1900 – 1975), who has been working as a receptionist in Johan Hagemeyer’s studio.
March: Edward tries to reestablish contact with Margrethe Mather. He wants to include her work in the Film un Foto exhibition. Mather never responds.
March 20: Edward visits Point Lobos and begins a series of kelp, rocks and cypress studies. His work at Point Lobos will last until the end of Edward’s photographic career.
April: Edward and photographer Sonya Noskowiak becomes partners and lovers.
February: Edward switches to glossy photographic paper for his personal work. He is influenced in the decision by Brett.
July 19: Jose Clemente Orozco and Alma Reed visit Carmel. Edward creates a portrait of Orozco using a similar approach to his “heroic head” series from Mexico. Orozco responds to Edward’s work by describing him as, “the first surrealist photographer.” Alma Reed proposes a show for Edward in New York.
August: Edward creates Negative 30P, “Pepper No.30, 1930.” It will become the most famous photograph of his career. He sells 25 copies during his lifetime.
October 15: Edward’s first One-Man Show in New York opens at Alma Reed’s Delphic Studio Gallery. 50 photographs are displayed.
Talks break down between Edward and Johan Hagemeyer over the rent of the studio. Hagemeyer requests a rent hike from $60 to $75 per month. Edward moves out of Hagemeyer’s studio and their friendship is forever broken.
September 2: Group f/64 forms at Willard Van Dyke’s gallery at 683 Brockhurst in San Francisco. The straight photography manifesto will influence photography for the next six decades.
October 24: The Art of Edward Weston, is published. The book is edited by Merle Armitage (1893 – 1975). The introduction is written by photographer Charles Sheeler (1883 – 1965). The book includes 39 reproductions. The book is the earliest monograph devoted to an American photographer.
November 15: An exhibition of Group f/64 work opens at the de Young Museum in San Francisco. 80 prints are displayed. Group members exhibiting include: Ansel Adams, (1902 – 1984), Imogen Cunningham, (1883 – 1976), John Paul Edwards, (1884 – 1968), Sonya Noskowiak, (1900 – 1975), Henry Swift, (1891 – 1962), Willard Van Dyke (1906 – 1986) and Edward Weston. Non-member invited exhibitors include: Preston Holder, (1907 – 1980), Consuela Kanaga, (1894 – 1978), Alma Levenson, (1897 – 1989) and Brett Weston.
February: Edward purchases a 4×5 Graflex camera. He begins a close-up, body fragment, nude series of Sonya and various other models. The series extends through 1935.
July: Edward, Sonya and Willard Van Dyke travel to New Mexico. Edward discovers the open landscape. It will be an important part of his body of work for the rest of his photographic career.
January-April: Edward leaves Carmel to works in Los Angeles for the Public Works of Art. He received $38.50 per week to copying art work.
Edward photographs the Oceano Dunes with Willard Van Dyke for the first time.
Early April: Edward is introduced to Charis Wilson (1914 – 2009) at a Carmel concert by her brother, Harry Leon Wilson Jr. (1913 – 1997).
April 22: Edward photographs Charis Wilson for the first time.
Edward separates from Sonya after 5 years together and begins his life with Charis.
Summer: Edward stops writing in his “Daybooks.”
January: Edward closes his portrait studio in Carmel. He moves to Santa Monica Canyon, California to open a studio with Brett.
August: Charis joins Edward in Santa Monica Canyon. Edward switches from 4×5 to 8×10 format on a new nude series of Charis. His most famous photograph from series: Negative 227N, “Head Down Nude, 1936.”
Edward initiates the “Edward Weston Print of the Month Club.” 8×10 prints are priced at $10.00 per month or $100.00 for a year subscription. Subscribers averages eight to eleven per year.
October 22: Edward composes a four line project statement for a Guggenheim Foundation Fellowship.
Edward and Charis travel to the Oceano Dunes where he creates his “Nude on the Dunes” series of Charis.
February 4: Edward amends his Guggenheim Foundation application at the recommendation of Dorothea Lange and Paul Taylor. With the help of Charis, Edward’s project statement is extended to a four-page essay.
March 22: Edward is awarded the first Guggenheim Fellowship ever presented to a photographer. The fellowship is for one year beginning April 1, 1937 with a stipend of $2,000.
Edward signs a contract with Phil Townsend Hanna, editor of AAA Westway magazine. Edward will produce 8-10 photos per month during his Guggenheim travels for $50.00. Charis will be paid an additional $15.00 to write photo captions and short descriptions. The fees make possible the purchase of a new Ford V-8 sedan for the trip.
Equipment used by Edward during the Guggenheim travels:
8×10 Century Universal view camera; Paul Ries tripod with tilting top; triple convertible Turner Reich lens; 12” 21” 28,” with Zeiss Protar element; 12 film holders; lens shade; Weston Lightmeter; K2, G A filters.
Guggenheim Fellowship, Year 1:
17 Trips covering 16,697 miles in 197 days and producing 1260 negatives.
Edward divorces Flora May Chandler Weston after 16 years of separation.
March 25: Edward receives notification his Guggenheim Fellowship has been renewed for a second year.
Guggenheim Fellowship, Year 2:
Edward makes few trips into the field to photograph. He spends most of the year printing the Guggenheim negatives.
August: Edward and Charis move into their home on Wildcat Hill, Carmel Highlands, California. Wildcat is built by Neil Weston for $1,200. The property’s 1.8 acres was purchased from Harry Leon Wilson, Charis’ father, for $1,000. Bodie House, a building constructed behind the main house, as a garage, becomes Charis’ writing studio.
March: Edward begins printing a master set of 500 images from his Guggenheim travels. The project funds of $400 are provided by the Guggenheim Foundation. It will take Edward over three years to complete the set. They are housed at the Huntington Library in San Marion, California.
April 24: Edward marries Charis Wilson in Elk, California.
California and the West, is published. It includes 96 of Edward’s Guggeheim Fellowship photographs along with a text by Charis profiling their travels. The first edition sells for $3.75.
Edward meets Beaumont (1908 – 1993) and Nancy Newhall (1908 – 1974) at Wildcat Hill. The Newhalls propose a major retrospective of Edward’s work at the Museum of Modern Art in New York.
June: Edward teaches photography at the First Yosemite/Ansel Adams Workshop. He is paid $150 for the week long workshop.
February 7: Edward receives a letter from George May (1900 – 1956), Director of Limited Editions Club, New York. Macy proposes Edward illustrate Walt Whitman book, Leaves of Grass. Macy proposes a budget of $1,000 for the photographs and $500 for travel expenses. Edward accepts the proposal.
May 28: Edward and Charis travel east from Los Angeles to begin the Whitman project. The trip covers 20,000 miles through 24 states. Edward creates 700 8×10 negatives. Subjects included: straight portraits of the common man and accomplishments of modern industry (skyscrapers, train yards and hydroelectric dams are among the many subjects).
December 7: The Japanese attack Pearl Harbor. Edward and Charis conclude the Whitman trips and return to Carmel via a southwestern route arriving at Wildcat Hill on January 20, 1942.
January 6: Tina Modotti dies in Mexico City.
March 19: Edward ships 73 mounted glossy prints to the Limited Editions Club for the Leaves of Grass book. Macy selects 54 photographs from the group with 49 of them making the final publication.
War Effort: Edward and Charis become Aircraft Spotters at Yankee Point, California for the Army’s Ground Observers Corp, Aircraft Warning Service.
September: Point Lobos is closed to the public. For the duration of the war, Edward’s photographic work centered around Wildcat Hill. He produces portraits, satires, nudes and a cat series. Important photographs from this period:
“Civilian Defense, 1942”
“My Little Gray Home in the West, 1943”
“Exposition of Dynamic Symmetry, 1943”
Edward is diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease.
November 15: Edward and Charis separate.
February 11: Edward’s retrospective exhibition opens at the Museum of Modern Art in New York. 250 photographs are exhibited along with 8 negatives. 97 prints are sold at $25 per print.
Cole Weston moves to Carmel and becomes Edward’s primary photographic assistant at Wildcat Hill.
August: Dr. George L. Waters, of Kodak, requests Edward produce Kodachrome color transparencies for Kodak advertising. He is offered $250 per transparency. Edward sells 7 images from Monterey and Point Lobos locations.
December 13: Edward and Charis divorce. Edward buys Wildcat Hill for $10,000.
Edward meets Dody Warren. She becomes a photographic assistant at Wildcat Hill.
Film: “The Photographer,” produced by Willard Van Dyke for the United States Information Agency. The production profiles Edward’s life in photography. Filming takes place at Wildcat Hill, Point Lobos, Death Valley and Yosemite. Dody Warren and Cole Weston assist Edward shooting color transparencies during the production.
Book: The Cats of Wildcat Hill, is published. The book includes 19 of Edward’s photographs with extensive text by Charis Wilson. The photographs are selected from a series of 140 negatives produced between 1943-1945.
Book: Fifty Photographs: Edward Weston, is published. The book is edited by Merle Armitage with an introduction by Robinson Jeffers (1887 – 1962).
Edward’s Parkinson’s Disease advances and he is forced to stop photographing. He creates his final image, “Rocks and Pebbles, 1948” at Point Lobos with Dody Warren.
A major retrospective of Edward’s work takes place at Musee d’art Modern, Paris, France.
Book: My Camera on Point Lobos, is published by Virginia and Ansel Adams. It contains 30 8×10 reproductions of Edward’s work along with excepts from the “Daybooks.”
Edward’s 50th Anniversary Portfolio is released. The 12 print portfolio, in an edition of 100, sells for $100. It was printed in 1951 by Brett Weston and assisted by Cole Weston, Dody Warren, Morley and Frances Baer.
1952 – 1955
Project Prints: Edward selects 832 negatives he considers his lifetime best. Brett Weston prints eight to ten photographs of each negatives. Dick McGraw (1905 – 1978) funds the $6,000 project. The only complete set is housed at the University of California, Santa Cruz.
“The World of Edward Weston,” an exhibition directed by Beaumont and Nancy Newhall is circulated by the Smithsonian Institution.
January 1: Edward dies at Wildcat Hill. He has $300 in the bank and his prints are selling for $25.00.
His ashes are scattered by his sons into the Pacific Ocean at Pebbly Beach, Point Lobos. The beach will later be renamed Weston Beach.
Cole Weston is designated in Edward’s will to be the only person to print his work after his death. Cole prints from Edward’s original negatives for over 30 years. Prints are stamped on the back “Negative by Edward Weston, Printed by Cole Weston. They are known as EW/CW Prints.
Edward’s archive of more than 2,000 exhibition prints and over 10,000 negatives, as well as his “Daybooks,” correspondence and other records relating to his life and travels are acquired by the Center for Creative Photography, at the University of Arizona in Tucson.
April: Sotheby’s sells Nude, 1925 (Miriam Lerner) for a record $1,609,000.00