I would like to make a few comments and observations after viewing "Edward Westo n: The Last Years in Carmel", currently exhibiting at the Art Institute of Chica go.
I have seen previous Weston exhibits and prints as part of gallery collections, and while always acknowledging Weston as a great photographer and 20th century i nfluence, I did not agree with the near "god" status many have given him. Howeve r, upon seeing this show I will elevate him much nearer that status. For those who have not seen a review (see previous issue of Black and White magazine or ar chives of Chicago Tribune) the exhibit is mainly landscapes and abtracts from Po int Lobos, nudes and images of his sons and family from 1938-1945. While I was not impressed with the nudes or family work, the landscapes are quit e incredible. The images are much darker with a wonderfully complex balance bet ween the subdued highlights and shadows of the prints. Upon first examination o f one print ( I forget the title) which shows a setting sun behind clouds taken from hills above Point Lobos the ocean looks almost completely black. Upon clos er examination one begins to see an incredible tonal delineation in the shadows, subtley revealing every wave crest, ripple and trough. I have never seen print s that show such depth and gradation in the shadows while stil maintaining a per fect compelment in the highlights. many of thes images are of chaotic, almost ra ndom subjects and Weston's use of lighting and printing brings a beautiful melan choly to each compostion.
Alright, sorry to be so long winded, these thoughts bugged the entire trip home so two observations: First, Anyone who can see this show will have a new appreci ation for his talents and vision as an artist, especially when one knows how pri mitive his methods were. Second, and not to start a firestorm, this exhibit demostrates why Weston is one of the great artists of any medium in the 20th century. Here was a man who obvi ously knew his life would be cut short and yet continued to grow and evolve his vision and art. That is something that not even the much more famous Ansel Adam s did, as his work was basically a repetion of old themes after 1950, even thoug h he was blessed with many more years to work than Weston.