This is a book about Edward Weston before he was Edward Weston―before he was the renowned modernist photographer we know so well. His early years in the field coincided exactly with the height of the Pictorialist movement in America, and while he was never a typical practitioner, he did make photographs that borrowed themes from paintings and other media, and experimented with soft-focused imagery that sometimes looks more like graphite drawings or inky dark prints than photographs. He would later disavow the gauzy, painterly experiments of his early years, claiming in his Daybooks that “even as I made the soft ‘artistic’ work … I would secretly admire sharp, clean, technically perfect photographs.”
Introducing rare surviving prints from the unplumbed holdings of the Lane Collection at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, this book offers new insights into Weston’s working methods and his evolution as a photographer. By taking a longer and more nuanced view of his early years, and by reinserting his first experiments back into the larger story of his artistic production, it reveals the variety of ways in which the paths he took as a young man led him to become the mature modernist master. Beautifully reproduced examples of Weston’s most important early work, essays explaining its place in his oeuvre and the history of photography, and a section dedicated to the variety of Weston’s early materials and techniques make this book a must-have resource.