Synopses & Reviews
"'Many historians of photography would take their cue from and ignore his Southern California period altogether, discussing his career as though he had risen miraculously from the volcanic ash of Mexico.' Warren's elegant book makes a restitution, depicting Weston's early career in the 1910s as marked by hard work in his small studio, neglected family obligations, and a series of extramarital affairs. It was also inspired by a circle of creative radicals who came to define Los Angeles aesthetics and politics: anarchist Emma Goldman, actor Rudolf Valentino, comedian Charlie Chaplin, dancer Vaslav Nijinsky, and actress Tina Modotti, to name a few. Of these, the most important was the enigmatic figure of Margrethe Mather, Weston's lover and collaborator. As both a photographer and bohemian, she was more daring and innovative than he, 'but she lacked Weston's self-discipline and his drive to succeed in the larger world.' Warren's cast is numerous and diverse, full of minor but notable characters who come in and out of Weston and Mather's social circle. While recording their contributions in the Los Angeles historical record is laudable, the lack of focus distracts from the Weston-Mather relationship. Final chapters make for the best reading by honing in on the suggestion that Weston's singular success came in part at the expense of the woman who was so influential in his early career." Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
This captivating biography reveals the previously untold love story of Edward Weston and Margrethe Mather. Both were photographic artists at the center of the bohemian cultural scene in Los Angeles during the 1910s and 1920s, yet Weston would become a major Modernist photographer while Mather, who Weston ultimately expunged from his journals, would fall into obscurity. The book reveals how they and their entourage sought out the limelight as the Hollywood film industry came of age. Based on ten years of research and illustrated with extraordinary images, some never published, this history has a captivating range of characters, including Charlie Chaplin, Imogen Cunningham, Max Eastman, Emma Goldman, Tina Modotti, Vaslav Nijinsky, and Carl Sandburg. The lively text brings to life the ambiance of this exciting time in Los Angeles history as well as its darker side. Artful Lives exceeds any previously published account of this key period in Weston’s development and reveals Mather’s important contribution to it, making it an essential reference in Weston studies.
About the Author
Beth Gates Warren is an independent scholar and consultant in the field of fine art photography and the author of Margrethe Mather and Edward Weston: A Passionate Collaboration (W. W. Norton, 2001), which accompanied an exhibition she curated for the Santa Barbara Museum of Art.