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Edward Weston: One Hundred Twenty Five Photographs Hardcover – 5 Nov 2011
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About the Author
Edward Weston (1886-1958) is an icon of American photography. His black-and-white photographs are considered among the most important images of the 20th century. Today, Edward Weston's photographs are highly coveted at auction and are exhibited by countless museums throughout the world.
Top Customer Reviews
First of all, this review is about the book that comes in a slipcase. There is a smaller version of this book that is absolutely not worth ordering because it has the faults of this book but not its qualities.
"One Hundred Twenty-five Photographs" is a very large book. Plates are large and, apparently, the same size of the original prints.
The selection of photographs is very good and it has several photos that I've not seen in other books
The design is very elegant and the paper is of very good quality.
Photos are on their own and you can concentrate on one photo at once. On the other hand, it is quite informative to see photos that , somehow, complement each other as it happens in books published by Aperture
There is only a short text in the beginning instead of the usual long academic digressions which take a third of the space in other photo books.
It has excerpts of Edward Weston's writings giving a unique insight into his work
The paper used is a beautiful art paper but it is the wrong paper to print Edward Weston's photos. As Edward Weston himself wrote " It is but a logical step, this printing on glossy paper, in my desire for photography beauty. Such prints retain most of the original negative quality...Subterfuge becomes impossible, every defect is exposed, all weakness equally with strength..." He goes on and says that " Now all reactions on every plane must come directly from the original seeing of the thing, no secondhand emotion from exquisite paper surfaces or color: only rhythm, form and perfect detail to consider".Read more ›
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta) (May include reviews from Early Reviewer Rewards Program)
The level of this black and white printing is very hihg indeed.
I also like the paper.
The first photograph I found another example of was plate 206, 'Kelp, China Cove, Point Lobos, 1940'. I compared it with the same image from My Camera on Point Lobos (Da Capo Press, New York 1968, a republication of the 1950 edition), where it is plate 17, entitled "China Cove, 1940". The large areas of near black in this image make the different choices in paper and ink stand out -- "My Camera" is printed on glossy paper, and in addition appears to have a coat of varnish applied after the printing to deepen the blacks. For me, this produces a more satisfying approximation of the darker end of the wide tonal range of most Weston prints. To some extent, a loss of shadow detail can be expected with a matte paper, which produces it's own "noise", and the image "My Camera" had substantially more shadow detail, clearly showing waves on the water's surface where in 125 these were barely visible.
The next photograph I compared was plate 118, 'Ivanos and Bugatti, 1931', which I also found as plate 25 in "The Daybooks of Edward Weston, Volume II" (Aperture, 197?). That book has a frontispiece disclaimer about printing quality ("Those who wish to study his photographs as presented with an excellence not attempted here are referred to "Edward Weston: Fifty Years..."), yet in the Daybooks version I found the image in question to have better tonal separation (the gray of the car body has a much more distinct tone), and there is considerably more highlight detail, particularly visible in the Bugatti's headlamps.
A third and final comparison I will make is between 125's version of plate 82 'Charrito (Pulqueria), Mexico 1926', with the same image in the Daybooks, Volume one, plate 17, there entitled 'Pulqueria, Mexico, D.F., 1926'. The daybooks image is clearly darker -- and the more open shadow tones of the "125" version allow a bit more detail -- but the overall effect is much closer to what I experience of a Weston print. In the Daybooks version there light and shadow falling across the storefront has a vital chiaroscuro lacking in the version in 125, which feels drab and dead by comparison.
Some further comparisons made me somewhat more tolerant of the faults I was finding in 125's printing... many of the nudes (for example plate 46 "Nude, 1923") looked as good or better than those in other editions, and I take that to be because the matte paper and ink density likely suits mid-tones better.
After my research, I am left trying to decide whether to keep the book (and give it as a gift as I planned), or to return it. The selection of images had some pleasant surprises, and the fairly strict chronological order allows an overview of Weston's development that is useful -- but the printing makes the final object a vehicle capable in most cases of only transmitting only a pale ghost of his vision. For some this will be intolerable, for others, not so much.
The caveat is that though some other books have indeed delivered more fidelity, in Edward Weston's work, where clear and specific tonality is as powerful an element as form, one should always remember that if you have not experienced it in original print form... you really have not experienced it.