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EDWARD WESTON (1886–1958)
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EDWARD WESTON (1886–1958)

Pipes and Stacks: Armco Steel, Middletown, Ohio 2M, 1922

EDWARD WESTON (1886–1958)
Pipes and Stacks: Armco Steel, Middletown, Ohio 2M, 1922
gelatin silver print, mounted on board, printed 1940s
initialed and dated in pencil (mount, recto); titled, dated and numbered '2M' in pencil and credited, titled on affixed The Museum of Modern Art, Art Lending Service label (mount, verso)
image/sheet: 9 1/2 x 7 5/8 in. (24.1 x 19.3 cm.)
mount: 16 x 13 7/8 in. (40.5 x 35.2 cm.)
Edwynn Houk Gallery, New York;
acquired from the above by the present owner, 2005.
Nancy Newhall, Edward Weston, The Museum of Modern Art, New York, 1946, p. 11.
Nancy Newhall, Edward Weston: The Flame of Recognition, Aperture, Grossman Publishers, New York, 1971, p. 9.
Ben Maddow, Edward Weston: Fifty Years, Aperture, Millerton, New York, 1973, p. 99.
Exhibition catalogue, Edward Weston: One Hundred Photographs, From the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art and the Hallmark Photographic Collection, Kansas City, Missouri, 1982, p. 7.
Amy Conger, Edward Weston: Photographs from the Collection of the Center for Creative Photography, Center for Creative Photography, Tucson, 1992, fig. 86/1922.
Gilles Mora (ed.), Edward Weston: Forms of Passion, Harry N. Abrams, New York, 1995, p. 58.
Alexander Lee Nyerges, Edward Weston: A Photographer’s Love of Life, Dayton Art Institute, Dayton, 2004, pl. 12, p. 126.
Brett Abbott et al., In Focus: Edward Weston, Getty Publications, Los Angeles, 2005, pl. 9, p. 27.
Amy Conger, Edward Weston: The Form of the Nude, Phaidon, New York, 2005, p. 17.
Steve Crist, Edward Weston: 125 Photographs, AMMO Books, Los Angeles/New York, 2012, pl. 36, p. 37.
Special notice

On occasion, Christie's has a direct financial interest in the outcome of the sale of certain lots consigned for sale. This will usually be where it has guaranteed to the Seller that whatever the outcome of the auction, the Seller will receive a minimum sale price for the work. This is known as a minimum price guarantee. This is such a lot.

Lot Essay

On a trip in 1922 to visit his sister May, in Middletown, Ohio, Weston made four images of the local American Rolling Mill Co (later, Armco Steel), whose soaring smokestacks and industrial aesthetic captivated him. From Ohio, Weston journeyed further, on an inaugural visit to New York City, and at his sister and brother-in-law’s urging. He was further encouraged after a meeting with Alfred Stieglitz, who expressed enthusiasm for his Armco images in particular. This critical feedback, along with introductions and camaraderie with other contemporary photographers, including Charles Sheeler and Paul Strand, set the course for much of what would come thereafter.

The images of Armco from 1922 were a continued departure from Weston’s earlier Pictorialist work. They demonstrate the photographer’s new Modernist dedication. In the present image, Weston presents the industrial plant as a monument to progress, not uncommon among early Modernists. Gone are painterly techniques or anything that would soften the scene. Amy Conger writes in relation to this particular image that during Weston’s stay in Mexico with Tina Modotti during 1923, Weston noted that ‘the phrase I love—“form follows function”—is as applicable to these charros [cowboys] as it is to the smoke stacks and grain elevators of industrialism’ (Conger, fig. 86/1922).

Weston made four negatives of the Armco plant; only three are known to have been printed. Other prints of this image reside in the public collections of The Museum of Modern Art, New York; the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; the J. Paul Getty Museum, California; and George Eastman House, Rochester, New York. This is the earliest print of this image to be offered at auction.

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