Fine Art Photography Series
Edward Weston

Biography of American Still-Life Photographer.

Pin it


Edward Weston (1886-1958)


Edward Weston's Photography
Most Expensive Photo by Edward Weston

- See the History of Photography (c.1800-1900).
- See biographical details of 19th-Century Photographers.

For a brief explanation of technical
and historical terms, please see:
Art Photography Glossary.



Edward Weston's Photography

One of the great photographers of the first half of the 20th century, the American camera artist Edward Henry Weston was a major figure in Pictorialist photography as well as a key advocate of "straight photography". Still lifes, portraits, nude studies, and studies of shells and plants are the best-known works of his long since considered "classical" oeuvre. An important and influential figure in American art, he is seen essentially as a Californian artist because of his focus on the people and environment of the West Coast. Many of his most famous photographs were taken of the scenery near his home at Point Lobos, California. Among his masterworks is the photograph Pepper #30 (1930, Silver Print, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art), which many critics see as the classic 20th century still life.

Compare the work of another famous California-based camera artist, the documentary photographer Dorothea Lange (1895-1965).


1902, obtains his first camera. 1906, travels to California to visit sister and so meets his first wife, Flora Chandler (marries 1909; sons are Chandler, Brett Weston, Neil, and Cole). 1907, attends Illinois College of Photography. Returns to California. 1911, opens a portrait studio in Tropico (today Glendale, California). At the same time creates expressive art photography founded on Pictorialism. 1922, travels to Ohio and photographs the Armco steel plant. Likewise a turning point in the sense of a creed of modern art. (See also the biography of Charles Sheeler (1883-1965), who became famous for his photos of Ford Motor Company's River Rouge car plant.)

1922, visits New York, meets Alfred Stieglitz (1864-1946) and Paul Strand (1890-1976). Receives encouragement from Stieglitz in New York. Returns to California. 1923, travels with Tina Modotti to Mexico. 1925 works in California again. Until November 1926, further stay in Mexico. Definitively abandons working on platinum/palladium paper in favour of using paper with a neutral silver bromine gelatin. At the same time takes photos of nude studies and steadily growing number of floral forms, shells, and rock formations. 1929, through Richard Neutra's recommendation selected as American contribution to the exhibition Film und Foto in Stuttgart. 1932, becomes a founder member of Group f/64; joint appearance of the group (with Ansel Adams, Imogen Cunningham, John Paul Edwards, Sonya Noskowiak, and Willard Van Dyke) in San Francisco. 1937, first photographer to receive a Guggenheim fellowship. 1939, marries Charis Wilson. 1946, major retrospective at MoMA, New York. 1947, experiments with Ektachrome film. 1947, diagnosed with Parkinson's disease. 1948, abandons photography for health reasons. 1952, edition of the Fiftieth Anniversary Portfolio printed by son Brett. Long since one of the art market's highest valued American photographers.

For a brief discussion of the aesthetics and evolution of lens-based art, see: Is Photography Art?

Selected Exhibitions

Unless stated all shows are solo events.

1929 Stuttgart (Film und Foto) group show
1930 New York (Delpic Studios)
1932 San Francisco (M. H. de Young Museum) group show
1946 New York (Museum of Modern Art MoMA - 1975)
1970 Arles (Rencontres d'Arles festival)
1976 Amsterdam (Stedelijk Museum)
1981 Venice (Palazzo Fortuny)
1995 Paris (Hotel de Sully) group show
2001 New York (Howard Greenberg Gallery)
2003 Berlin (Camera Work)
2003 Tucson (Arizona) (Center for Creative Photography)
2004 Portland (Oregon) (Portland Art Museum)
2005 Rochester (New York) (George Eastman House)
2007 Los Angeles (J. Paul Getty Museum)

Most Expensive Photograph by Edward Weston

In April 2008, Weston's Nude (1925) was auctioned for $1,609,000, at Sotheby's New York, making it the most expensive Weston photograph ever sold. Two years later, also at Sotheby's New York, his photograph Nautilus (1927) was auctioned for $1,082,500.


Photographs by Edward Weston are regularly exhibited in several of the best galleries of contemporary art across America.



Profiles of Other Famous Camera Artists

In addition to those photographers mentioned above, here is a short list of the major camera artists of the 20th century.

Eugene Atget (1857-1927) Famous for Paris street scenes
Edward Steichen (1879-1973) Pictorialism
Raoul Hausmann (1886-1971) Dada Photomontage Artist
Man Ray (1890-1976) Dada, fashion
John Heartfield (Helmut Herzfeld) (1891-1968) Dada photomontages
Ansel Adams (1902-84) Wilderness landscapes
Walker Evans (1903-75) Documentary pictures
Henri Cartier-Bresson (1908-2004) Street photography, surrealism
Robert Capa (1913-54) War photographer
Irving Penn (1917-2009) Fashion, ethnographical images
Richard Avedon (1923-2004) Fashion photography
Robert Mapplethorpe (1946-89) Figurative images and still lifes
Jeff Wall (b.1946) Staged photography

For other lens-based disciplines, see: Animation and Video Art.

• For more about still-life photographs, see: Homepage.

© All rights reserved.