10 April 2008
An American Exodus: A Record of Human Erosion. Text by Paul Taylor. New York: Reynald Hitchcock, 1939.
Quarto (262 x 196 mm). 112 black and white photographs. Original blue coth, spine and upper cover lettered in gilt; original photo-illustrated dust jacket (some light chipping to edges of panels, a few tears along folds, some minor staining); cloth folding case. Provenance: Edward and Charis Weston (presentation inscription on half title) -- Lee D. Witkin, influential photography dealer (estate stamp).
FIRST EDITION. AN IMPORTANT ASSOCIATION COPY INSCRIBED BY LANGE TO EDWARD WESTON: "For Edward and Charis from Paul and Dorothea March 1940." Weston had known Lange for a good 20 years before recieving his copy of her masterpiece. He photographed her in 1920, and rented her studio in 1925 and used it on numerous occasions when she was away. She later assisted Weston in securing his Guggenheim fellowship -- the first awarded to a photographer. Lange felt the tone of his draft application was likely to lead to rejection, and she prevailed on Weston to rewrite his proposal. During the course of his Guggenheim project Weston and his wife Charis dined with Lang and Taylor at their home. Weston subsequently wrote to Lange: "that evening... was a turning point in my life" (quoted in Watts). This book later formed part of Lee Witkin's collection: Witkin's exhibitions of Weston's work, the first taking place in 1969, provided important re-evaluations of the variety of Weston's work. "Of all the documentary photobooks stemming from the New Deal, and the FSA in particular, An American Exodus by Dorothea Lange and her sociologist husband Paul Schuster Taylor is the most considered. Not only does it have the closest integration of thext and image, but the whole book was compiled with scrupulous attention to the presentation of facts, without either hyperbole or undue rhetoric on the part of photographer or writer" (The Photobook). 101 Books p.102-103; The Open Book, pp.132-33; The Photobook, vol. I, p.142; Watts, Edward Weston: A Legacy, pp.43-44.
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