Overview

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Details
EDWARD WESTON (1886–1958)
Pepper No. 30, 1930
gelatin silver print, mounted on card, printed c. 1940
initialed and dated in pencil (mount, recto); signed, titled and dated by the artist in pencil with number '3232g' in an unknown hand in pencil (mount, verso)
image/sheet: 9 1/2 x 7 1/2 in. (24.2 x 19.1 cm.)
mount: 16 1/2 x 13 1/8 in. (41.8 x 33.3 cm.)
Provenance
Pace/MacGill Gallery, New York;
acquired from the above by the present owner, 1980s.
Literature
Nancy Newhall, The Photographs of Edward Weston, The Museum of Modern Art, New York, 1946, p. 18.
Nancy Newhall (ed.), Edward Weston: The Flame of Recognition, Aperture Foundation, New York, 1965, p. 35.
Nancy Newhall (ed.), The Daybooks of Edward Weston, Aperture Foundation, New York, 1973, pl. 5, n.p.
Keith F. Davis, Edward Weston: One Hundred Photographs, The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, Kansas City, 1982, p. 20.
Amy Conger, Edward Weston: Photographs from the Collection of the Center for Creative Photography, Center for Creative Photography, Tucson, 1992, fig. 606/1930.
Terence Pitts et al., Edward Weston: Forms of Passion, Harry N. Abrams, New York, 1995, p. 171.
Theodore E. Stebbins, Jr, et al., Edward Weston: Photography and Modernism, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, 1999, pl. 38, n.p.
Sarah M. Lowe et al., Edward Weston: Life Work, Lodima Press, Revere, 2003, pl. 43, n.p.
Sarah M. Lowe, Tina Modotti & Edward Weston: The Mexico Years, Merrell Publishers Limited, London, 2004, p. 134.
Amy Conger, Edward Weston: The Form of the Nude, Phaidon Press Limited, London, 2005, p. 69.
Exhibited
Ithaca, New York, Herbert F. Johnson Museum of Art, Cornell University, An American Portrait: Photographs from the Collection of Diann and Thomas Mann, April 1–June 12, 1994.

Lot Essay

I have worked with peppers again, surprising myself! Sonya brought several home, and I could not resist, though I thought to have finished with peppers. But peppers never repeat themselves: shells, bananas, melons, so many forms, are not inclined to experiment – not so the pepper, always excitingly individual. So I have three new negatives, and two more under way. – Edward Weston

Edward Weston recognized the summer of 1929 as the start of a particularly significant, prolific period in his oeuvre. He devoted much of this time to photographing textured, twisted vegetables, notably peppers of ‘marvelous convolutions’ whose intriguing forms enamored Weston so fully they distracted him from producing commissioned works. He created at least thirty different depictions of sculptural peppers within four days in August, 1930. This infatuation with the pepper as ideal photographic subject is best explained by the artist himself:

I have done perhaps fifty negatives of peppers: because of the endless variety in form manifestations, because of the extraordinary surface texture, because of the power, the force suggested in their amazing convolutions.

As an image, Pepper No. 30 has become so iconic it is nearly synonymous with the artist himself. It is arguably one of the images that represents him most frequently, and graces the cover of his intimate Daybooks volume II. This is unsurprising considering Weston deemed the pepper series a ‘peak of achievement,' placed with his 'finest expression.' According to Conger, he made at least twenty-five prints of this image, making it his most popular pepper (Conger, Edward Weston, fig. 606/1930).

To be sure, much of my work has this quality – many of my last year’s peppers… and in fact all the new ones, take one into an inner reality – the absolute – with a clear understanding, a mystic revealment. This is the “significant presentation” that I mean, the presentation through one’s intuitive self, seeing “through one’s eyes, not with them”: the visionary. My recent work more than ever indicates my future (Conger, fig. 610/1930).

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