Weston at AIC

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A quick addition to the previous post. These images were printed by Brett and Cole and unamed assistants under Weston's supervision circa 1952-1953. So I am assuming that the prints represent the results he would have achieved on his own, or he would not have approved them. Also please correct any factual errors, I did not aquire any exhibit literature, so anything presented as fact is from memory. Thanks for any discussion.

-- James Chinn (Jim1341@dellEpro.com), September 03, 2001


Brett and Cole were the only ones allowed to print from Edward's negatives. During that period the paper was Haloid Industro developed in Amidol. The prints were made in Edward's darkroom on Wildcat Hill and approved by him. Although very ill at the time with Parkinsons, his sight and mind were good and the prints are probably very much the way he would have printed. It was from this experience, however, that Brett decided that only he could print his own negatives, hence the burning of them on his 80th birthday.

-- Merg Ross (mergross@aol.com), September 03, 2001.

The book that serves as the catalogue for the exhibit is wonderful as well.

-- David Rose (DERose1@msn.com), September 03, 2001.

As part of an exhibit at the MFA in Boston 2 years ago, they had a reconstruction of westons darkroom. A L-shaped wooden bench, with a sink in the right side. Cold running water. Trays and tongs. A gram scale and copious hand-written notes on formula. On the dry side of the L, the contact print frame. The light source was a bare bulb that hung above the frame on a wire. The wire was looped back on itself one time and held in place with a wooden clothespin. To increase the light, lessen the loop, to decrease it, widen it. This darkroom was indeed part of the Weston legend.

-- Chris (cyeager@ix.netcom.com), September 03, 2001.

Brett actually decided that only he could print from his own negatives when he witnessed a showing of edwards work that was printed by several different people and even some prints that were only to be work prints. the look, feel and quality of the prints varied enough to, I think anyway, convince him of this point of view.

-- mark lindsey (lindseygraves@msn.com), September 03, 2001.

I concur that the EW show at AIC is supurb. I do differ with James though in that I think some of the portraits, particularly the one of Charis Wilson playing the recorder, are on a par with any of the landscapes. Most of the prints shown were printed by Brett and Cole under EW's supervision in the early 1950s. The others are vintage prints by EW himself.

-- Al Russell (alnluann@inil.com), September 03, 2001.

Just a clarification,I hope, For What Its Worth...under the terms of Edward Weston's will, Cole was the sole printer/point of sale for E.W. prints after his death...with the requirement that a clear statement be on each print to show negative by E.W. and print by C.W. . From listening to Cole discuss it, it seems his integrity clearly bound him to the letter of the will. Brett and Cole were involved in the production of fine prints when E.W. was unable to do it himself. I've never heard of anyone except Edward, Brett or Cole printing an E.W. negative for a fine print for his signature, and certainly not under the terms of his will. The unnamed assistants referred to earlier may be one or more of the various folks who studied with Edward, though I doubt they were involved in printing...but perhaps lent a hand in later stages of print finishing.

Things may be more murkey if you are dealing with his commercial portrait prints. Fred.

-- Fred Leif (frederickl@aol.com), September 04, 2001.

Weston the man has intrigued me after reading the journals, California and the West, and letters to Adams, but I'm afraid that I've always been underwhelmed by the work having only seen the 1940ish reproductions in C&tW. So far I've attributed his fame to his being a flambouyant person being in the right place at the right time. I'd love to have the privilege to see these in person and re-evaluate. Is this show coming west anywhere?

-- Jim Galli (jimgalli@lnett.com), September 04, 2001.

Perhaps I am incorrect in stating that only Brett and Cole printed from EW negatives. Cole will surely have the last word on this. Brett, however, was adamant that his own negatives not be printed by others. I can recall this from our initial friendship in the 50's and reinforced through the decades. It was years later that there were hints of a pyrotechnic conclusion. Printing his dad's 832 "Project Prints" must surely have influenced his decision to destroy his own negatives. Brett knew that only he could print his own work. And at this he was a master.

-- Merg Ross (mergross@aol.com), September 04, 2001.

I may be wrong but I am almost positive that at least one of the title cards with a print stated something to the effect, "printed by assistant to Edward Weston". The information about the exhibit on the walls I beleive only mentioned Cole and Brett and that these were part of a large group printing of several portfolios. It also stated that it would be impossible to assemble such a group of prints done by Edward because of limited number of prints available, or something to that effect.

The previous issue of Black and White Magazine (August/Sept?) had a review and I believe a schedule of the tour. I did not purchase a copy but perhaps someone else can provide the info, or E-mail the mag at www.bandwmag.com.

-- James Chinn (Jim1341@Dellepro.com), September 04, 2001.

The portfolio "Six Nudes of Neil" are palladium prints made by George Tice in 1977 from EW negatives of 1925. So,it is true that not all prints are by EW, Cole or Brett. However, I still question printing by assistants relative to silver gelatin exhibition prints.

-- Merg Ross (mergross@aol.com), September 04, 2001.

Here's the exact wording re: the prints in the exhibit, copied from a card on the north wall of the exhibit at the Art Institute:

[In addition to Brett] "Toward the end of his career, Edward Weston also had the help of his son Cole and other assistants in printing his work."

As far as I can recall, all of the prints in the exhibit (including those alluded to in the quote above) are signed and dated in pencil by EW.


-- Micah (MicahMarty@aol.com), September 05, 2001.

I have a copy of a book titled "Darkroom2", by Lustrum press published in 1978, in which there is a long article by Cole Weston about printing his father's negatives. Cole stated that he and Brett are the only two people besides Edward who ever printed his negatives. I don't know where the museum got the "and others". Cole states that Edward Weston signed both his full name and E.W. to prints made by Edward, but in later years he used his full name. Later prints made by either Cole or Brett were initialed E.W. This is a fascinating article on the materials used by both Edward and Cole, as well as the darkroom setup.


-- Doug Paramore (dougmary@alaweb.com), September 05, 2001.

I suspect that Weston (like Adams) had darkroom assistants, but the photographer was always present and supervised the entire printing process. Of course, I am not refering to prints made (and so signified on the back) by Brett and Cole without Edward present.

-- Michael Feldman (mfeldman@qwest.net), September 05, 2001.

I'm just reading Charis Wilsons autobiography about her time with Weston (obviously prior to this period), but as UI recall so far, the only one who helped out was Brett - I don't think she did at the time.

Interesting book BTW

I still think one of the best EW images is her floating in the pool...

Tim A

-- tim atherton (tim@kairosphoto.com), September 05, 2001.

Doug- Thank You. I believe you have put this matter to rest. Let us accept Cole as the final arbiter, as I suggested earlier. There were assistants at the time Brett was printing EW negatives but they were, as noted by Fred Leif, involved with the later stages of print finishing. I remember Dody being very involved and Morley and Francis Baer may also have been as they were often present when I visited Edward during this period. The rewriting of history will persist but perhaps with the help of living witnesses we can get it right. Regards, Merg Ross

-- (mergross@aol.com), September 05, 2001.

That should be Frances Baer, his wife.

-- Merg Ross (mergross@aol.com), September 06, 2001.

In a biography of Edward Weston by Ben Maddow, there is a Selected Chronology of Weston's life on pages 123-124 of the paperback edition. There is an entry for 1948/1958 as follows:

"Worked on printing 1000 selected negatives. (This project was never actually finished. The prints were made under Weston's direction, but done by Brett, Cole, and Dody Warren.)"

Of course, the above quote does not specifically mention the exact tasks that Dody Warren performed during the printing process (exposure, development, fixing, mounting, etc.). In the text of the biography, Dody Warren is described as Weston's assistant starting in 1948 when his Parkinson's disease had already begun to limit his activities. She lived in Weston's home at Walnut Hill for almost three years except for one eight-month absence. Weston died in 1958. Maddow's biography of Weston was nominated in 1975 for the National Book Award.

-- Michael Feldman (mfeldman@qwest.net), September 07, 2001.

The Maddow book, according to Brett and Cole, was full of inaccuracies. Dody lived in "Bodie House", a detached cottage in the front yard.

-- Merg Ross (mergross@aol.com), September 07, 2001.

The Maddow biography of EW simply says that Dody lived at "Walnut Hill" for the period mentioned. So the assumption that it was "Weston's" house (as opposed to the cottage) is my mistake. Given that she lived on the property and was EW's assistant, it is reasonable to assume that she did some photographic work. I believe that Merg implied as much in his earlier post.

-- Michael Feldman (mfeldman@qwest.net), September 07, 2001.

Michael- You are correct--house or cottage,it really doesn't matter. Sorry to be so petty. I have strayed a long way from James' initial query. Merg

-- (mergross@aol.com), September 07, 2001.

I'm curious about the reference to Walnut Hill? Shouldn't that be Wildcat Hill? Fred

-- Fred Leif (Frederickl@aol.com), September 08, 2001.

Yes, it is Wildcat Hill, not Walnut Hill.

-- Michael Feldman (mfeldman@qwest.net), September 08, 2001.

Actually, Edward briefly lived at Walnut Hill when he was dabbling in long range black powder single shot rifle marksmanship

-- Moe (cynic@misanthrope.com), September 08, 2001.

I agree with Al that the portrait of Charis with recorder was beautiful. It was printed by EW, too. It had a warmer tone than most and seemed to glow with affection

-- Wayne (wsteffen@skypoint.com), September 08, 2001.

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