Lot Content

Global notice COVID-19 Important notice
EDWARD WESTON (1886-1958)
PROPERTY FROM THE ESTATE OF CHARLOTTE LOEB The history of photography has made scant reference to the work of Johan Hagemeyer, a Dutch immigrant who arrived in the United States in 1911. Where he is accorded any distinction, it is as a lead player in the life of Edward Weston, to whom he was introduced in 1917 and with whom he enjoyed a singularly intense friendship for over twenty years. It seems that Weston - at least initially in the relationship - assumed the role of mentor, while Hagemeyer, with his European sensibility, provided Weston with an assortment of radical new ideas about politics, literature and music. Weston's Daybooks and existing correspondence between the two men indicate that they maintained an almost constant exchange of aesthetic views on each other's photography until their friendship declined in the 1930s. Weston expurgated his journals from 1916-1923, a period of intense artistic development for the two, making it difficult to evaluate fully the extent of their mutual influence. It seems clear, however, that their differences were based on an 'objective versus subjective' argument. Hagemeyer's visit to Glendale in April 1923, made shortly before Weston and Modotti's departure for Mexico, prompted the following, typical discourse between the two: 'Johan is here - has been here for over a week - Days and nights of intensity - burning discourses on many topics - of course mostly photography! Johan brought new work - fine industrial things - nicely seen - but lacking in definition - an inexcusable fault when it comes to photographing modern architecture and machinery - even the 'mood' could be better interpreted with sharp - clean - lines - 'But if I see things this way - Edward - I must render them as I see them' - Nevertheless - Johan - photography has certain inherent qualities which are only possible with photography - one being the delineation of detail - so why not take advantage of this attribute? Why limit yourself to what your eyes see when you have such an opportunity to extend your vision? (Daybook, April 20, 1923) Lot 135, Weston's Steel: Armco, Middletown, Ohio, dated April, 1923 and inscribed 'This print for Johan - because he likes it!' was a clearly a gift from Weston to his 'protegé' during this visit. Hagemeyer's admiration for Weston's work, however, was not unqualified. For his own part, he was an artist with a broader brushstroke, whose work, unlike Weston's mature style, always retained elements of Pictorialism. Technique was always less important to him than an intuitive feel for his subject-matter, the light and the creative process as a whole. Hagemeyer considered himself, above all, a 'portraitist - whether of person or things' and his credit stamp always read 'Johan Hagemeyer, Camera Portraits', regardless of subject-matter. A staunch non-conformist, he refused to submit to the 'straight' photography dictat of the Weston-championed photographic group, f/64. For this he paid the high price of marginalization. Submitting a portfolio of 49 photographs to Nancy Newhall at the Museum of Modern Art, New York, in 1945, he was informed that 'they did not appear to fit into the immediate schedule.' She gave Weston a one-man show the following year. Lots 135, and 138-149, spanning almost three decades of Hagemeyer's career, illustrate the extraordinary richness, variety and vitality of his work. They form part of the Estate of Charlotte Loeb, wife of eminent Berkeley physicist, Dr. Leonard Loeb (1891-1978), a patron and friend of Hagemeyer from the 1920s. Dr. Loeb was a talented amateur photographer in his own right, creating interesting, Modernist-influenced images, such lot 148, a highly expressive portrait of a Hagemeyer. The Loeb Trust collection of photographs by Johan Hagemeyer and Edward Weston's Steel: Armco, Middletown, Ohio have been on loan to the Center for Creative Photography, University of Arizona, since 1982. Much of this loan material from the Trust's collection formed part of the first retrospective exhibition of Hagemeyer's work since his death in 1962. Further examples from the Loeb Trust collection will be offered in Christie's October 2005 and April 2006 auctions. Christie's would like to thank the Center for its invaluable assistance in making this sale possible.
EDWARD WESTON (1886-1958)

Steel: Armco, Middletown, Ohio, 1922

Details
EDWARD WESTON (1886-1958)
Steel: Armco, Middletown, Ohio, 1922
palladium print
signed, titled 'Ohio' and dated in pencil (on the verso); signed, dated 'April 1923' and inscribed 'this print for Johan - because he likes it!' in pencil (on the reverse of the mount)
9 1/8 x 6 7/8in. (23.2 x 17.5cm.)
Literature
"Steel," Irradiador, no. 3, (1923-1924), front cover; Armitage, The Art of Edward Weston, E. Weyhe, 1932, p. 4; Maddow, Edward Weston: Fifty Years, Aperture, 1973, p. 97; Newhall, Supreme Instants: The Photography of Edward Weston, Little, Brown and Co., 1986, cat. no. 222, pl. 11; Conger, Edward Weston: Photographs from the Collection of the Center for Creative Photography, University of Arizona, 1992, fig. 85/1922 (this print)

Lot Essay

Edward Weston was at a turning point in his career and his life when he made this photograph. He had been restless in his work since around 1920. He began then to make some geometrically inspired compositions. But it was not until he travelled to Middletown, Ohio in October 1922 that he turned a corner and became truly 'modernist.'
He had gone to visit his sister May and her husband John before his departure for Mexico. They paid for the trip and also helped him to continue on to New York City. Weston wrote about his visit, 'But most of all in importance was my photographing of Armco, the great plant and giant stacks of the American Rolling Mill Co. That day I made great photographs, even Stieglitz thought they were important! And I only showed him unmounted proofs.' (The Day Books of Edward Weston, Vol. I, Mexico, The George Eastman House, 1966, p. 8)
Weston had made the pilgrimage to show his work to Stieglitz with some trepidation but he noted later that Stieglitz had said, 'If I were publishing Camera Work I would ask you for this breast, these torsoes and these smoke-stacks.' (Daybooks, ibid., p. 6)
Before leaving New York he visited Stieglitz again and showed his photographs to Georgia O'Keeffe. About the Armco photos, Weston recorded her to say, 'These stacks too are very fine...' (Daybooks, ibid., p. 6) Stieglitz's parting words included, 'You have shown at least several prints which have given me a great deal of joy. And this I can seldom say of photographs.' (Daybooks, ibid., p. 6)
Back in California, before his departure to Mexico, he wrote about a visit with his friend Johan Hagemeyer, 'I gave him a print of my Stacks' and recorded Hagemeyer to say, 'I have never before demanded a print from you Edward - but I must have a copy of that.' He would return again and again to it: 'It is a thing I wish I had made...' (Daybooks, ibid., p. 10)
When Weston moved to Mexico, he decorated his room with only three pictures, 'Picasso, Hokusai - and one of my own photographs - the Smoke Stacks of course.' (Daybooks, ibid., p. 20)
Weston knew when he made the photographs at the Armco factory that he had decisively moved away from his earlier pictorialist influenced work and there was no turning back. More than seventy years after they were made, the eminent photohistorian Beaumont Newhall wrote about them, 'These photographs are a complete depature from his earlier work, not only in subject matter, but in their stark, uncompromising realism.' (Newhall, Supreme Instants: The Photography of Edward Weston, Little, Brown and Co., 1986, p. 19)

The print, loaned by the Trust to the Center for Creative Photography over twenty years ago, supplemented the Center's unique Edward Weston Archive and has been available to Weston scholars and the general public enhancing their appreciation and understanding of Weston's life and work.
;

More from Photographs

View All
View All