Through Another Lens: My Years With Edward Weston

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9780865475397: Through Another Lens: My Years With Edward Weston

Charis Wilson was nineteen and Edward Weston forty-eight when they met in 1934, but the passionate and often misunderstood eleven-year relationship between the famous photographer and the intellectual beauty was a true partnership. Wilson became not only the subject of some of Weston's most famous photographs but also his wife, working partner, and author of several acclaimed books that are illustrated with his work.

Through Another Lens tells the story of the life they led on the Big Sur coast amid a particularly American (and peculiarly Western) brand of artistic ferment among such figures as Ansel Adams, Imogen Cunningham, and Robinson Jeffers.

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Review:

Charis Wilson jump starts her recollection of her years with Edward Weston with a visit to Death Valley (where, as model and photographer, they made many of his most famous photographs) for the first time in nearly 50 years. From there she follows the flow of memory. Wilson was just 19 when she first met the 48-year-old photographer. Shortly after that first encounter, Weston jotted the following entry in one of his Daybooks: "I have not opened this book for almost 8 months--and with good reason; I have been too busy, busy living. I notice the last entry was 4-20. On 4-22 a new love came into my life, a most beautiful one, one which will, I believe, stand the test of time." Wilson remembers spotting a "short man in brown clothes" as she scanned a crowded room after a concert; he was Weston. Wilson soon became his model (she is the subject of more than half of his recorded nudes), then his lover, and ultimately his wife. Their relationship seemed to transcend that of artist and muse. The two worked alongside one another, she assisting him in the darkroom, he illustrating texts she wrote.

Wilson's memoir is filled with anecdotes about Weston's work methods and personal habits that his admirers will find delightful: Weston wore glasses to focus his shot, then yanked them off to view his subject so that each shot was achieved through a flurry of the glasses flying off and onto the photographer's face; he used a heavy tarp to transform the back of his Ford V-8 into a darkroom; he ambushed the sun, laying in the sand until it illuminated his subject just the way he desired; coated cats' whiskers with butter so they'd lick them, staying in one place long enough for him to take his shot; and had a penchant for foods that would revolt even the most iron stomached. These recollections combined with other details about their lives together, their friendships with Ansel Adams, Imogen Cunningham, Jack London and other luminaries and their work form a comprehensive if roseate view of Weston that is a substantial addition to what we know about the legendary photographer. --Jordana Moskowitz

About the Author:

Charis Wilson's books include California and the West and The Cats of Wildcat Hill. She lives in Santa Cruz, California. Wendy Madar is on the faculty of Oregon State University in Corvallis.

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Charis Wilson; Wendy Madar
Editore: North Point Pr (1999)
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