Edward Weston: The body and the Line

Image © Edward Weston, courtesy Centro Italiano per la Fotografia

A new exhibition compares photographs by the portraitist Edward Weston with drawings by some of the greatest exponents of American Minimalism, taken from the Philip and Rosella Rolla collection in Italy.

At first glance, Weston’s portraits and the minimalist drawings chosen share few characteristics.

Yet this exhibition, at the Centro Italiano per la Fotografia in Torini, Italy, explores the two very separate artistic projects  “similar interests and sensitivities,” as a means to “throw new light on both, by means of an unusual but very close comparison.”

Edward Weston began his career in California in the early 20th century. In Tropico, a small town not far from Los Angeles, he opened a studio where he took his earliest portrait photographs.

His style at that time was very different from that for which he would become famous, for he adhered the rules of classical portraiture, his photographs imbued with dreamy atmospheres, blurred edges, thick, amber-coloured paper.

In 1932, Weston founded the f/64 Group with Ansel Adams, which consisted of rigorously composed portraits famous personalities such as writer Leon Wilson, artist Dorothy Brett and composer Igor Stravinsky, as well as strangers from the street and posed nudes.

Such images are demonstrative of Weston’s constant interest in the human figure, as well as his meticulous attention to detail, worthy of a miniature painter studying a surface centimetre by centimetre.

Dan Flavin, Donald Judd, Sol Lewitt, Fred Sandback and Richard Serra are the authors of the works placed in comparison with Weston’s photographs.

They are of a particular type: all drawings, with a character that bears comparison with Weston’s period portraits.

Repetition was one of the central tenets of Weston’s approach, one defined by sticking to invariable rules – neutral expression, absence of frontality, close-up composition.

Above all, he created repeated images for each subject. in a manner reminiscent of miniature artists.

“Weston was stringent, like the Minimalists. And like them, his iconography is based on the concepts of discipline, geometry, precision, and scientific harmony. His modulus is the neutral space of the frame. Which in this case often blends with the space of the portraitist’s studio.”

Edward Weston: The body and the Line is exhibited at Centro Italiano per la Fotografia in Torini, Italy, until 14 August 2016. For more information see here.

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