Modernism In Photography – Art Essay
Edward Weston’s creative philosophy seems to be about internalising the camera process so that what the artist envisions and what the camera produces are as closely aligned as possible. Unlike pictorialists who
personalise the photos after they are taken by applying craft and classically ‘artistic’ effects, Weston in a sense melds the man and machine into one – he talks of “seeing photographically” – learning to see the subject matter in terms of the tools and processes of the medium, and then use it to portray his personal, subjective view. As such, the photo doesn’t need to be touched up or changed, because it is in itself a faithful representation of the artist’s vision – trying to minimise the discrepancy between the creative idea and its manifestation.
So he uses the camera to distil the subject into its basic materiality – black and white gradations, crisp detail, formalistic patterning, flattening of the perspectival plane, concentration on surface – in both the convolutions and detail of the subject, and the glossy surface of the photo, as in Pepper, 1930. This reflects a Modernist, Materialist idea that the ‘essence’ of the subject, its ‘eternal’, ‘universal’ qualities can be accessed through an accurate, sensitive rendering / recording of its features.