Thursday, August 02, 2007

In Due Time

Edward Weston's Book of Nudes, edited by Brett Abbott, 2007

In 1953, writer and curator Nancy Newhall and photographer Edward Weston began planning a book devoted to Weston's photographic studies of the female nude. A number of publications had already been done on Weston's work, but none had focused specifically on this theme, and none of them involved Weston's direct participation. The book incorporated still lifes and landscapes (both were closely tied to Weston's exploration of the nude) and an essay by Newhall discussing the artist's very unique - and radical - aesthetic. But too radical it was, and nervous editors pulled the plug on its publication.

Nude, 1936

Pepper, 1930

The mock-up created by Newhall and Weston was acquired by the J. Paul Getty Museum in 1985, virtually in tact, though several pages and prints had been removed or gone missing. Only last year did Brett Abbott, the Getty's assistant curator of photographs, find a way to realize Newhall and Weston's original vision - by working with the museum's own collection and that of the Center for Creative Photography in Tucson, Arizona, Abbot was able to recreate the format as its creators had intended, complete with the essay and all 39 images.

Nude, 1927

Point Lobos, 1930

Abbott's book defines newly added elements, including a preface and images of the original mock-up, by differences in paper and ink. But it is an otherwise faithful testament to the vision of Newhall and Weston.

Newhall's vision was particularly ahead of her time. She worked not only with Weston, but with Ansel Adams and Paul Strand, and wrote extensively on photography and conservation (she was an early and avid member of the Sierra Club). And when husband Beaumont Newhall was called to service in WWII, Nancy stepped into his position at MoMA and acted as head curator for the department of photography. In 1952, she, along with Adams, Dorothea Lange, Barbara Morgan, Minor White and husband Beaumont, founded Aperture, the leading non-profit arts institution dedicated to advancing fine photography.

The book is published to coincide with an exhibition of Weston's work on view from July 31 to November 25, 2007, at the J. Paul Getty Museum.

Edward Weston's Book of Nudes
Edited by Brett Abbott
Based on the unpublished book compiled by Nancy Newhall and Edward Weston
J. Paul Getty Museum
Published in association with the Center for Creative Photography, University of Arizona, Tucson.
96 pages, 10 1/2 x 11 1/4 inches
1 color and 70 duotone photographs
ISBN 978-0-89236-903-4
hardcover, $39.95

Edward Weston's negatives continue to be printed by his son, Cole, and can be purchased at

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