Edward Weston shocked the art world with his formalist still life photographs. In 1929 he shot twenty-six negatives of a green pepper against a burlap, muslin, or blank backdrop. Through his sharp focus, long exposures of light modulating off of their waxy, undulating surfaces, Weston created images that are surprisingly sensual and evocative. He marveled that some viewers read vulvas, penises, sexual intercourse, Madonna with child, wrestlers, modern sculpture, African carving, and more into his pepper pictures. Although he joked that he could size up people according to what they saw in his images, he too experienced a kind of emotional stirring at their extraordinary surface texture and amazing convolutions. Regardless
of any Freudian subtext, Weston’s straight, unmanipulated close-ups of fruits and vegetables elevate simple, inanimate objects from the natural world into something of exquisite beauty and visual power.
Sidney and Lois Eskenazi Museum of Art’s collection includes 140 works by Edward Weston, including several other pictures of produce: Melon (Eskenazi Museum of Art 64.53.4), Cabbage Leaf (Eskenazi Museum of Art 68.117.1), and Red Cabbage, Quartered (Eskenazi Museum of Art 64.53.100).
Gelatin silver print
Image/sheet: 8 7/16 x 7 5/16 (21.4 x 18.6 cm); mount: 17 1/8 x 14 (43.5 x 35.6 cm)
Sidney and Lois Eskenazi Museum of Art, 64.53.8
Large image not available.