Posts Tagged ‘Edward Weston’

“Meaning in a painting is derived from quality. It is reciprocal and will return what has been given to it both to its creator and to the beholder, by a multiple combination in visual concept of pattern, color, form, and that undefined intangible which transcends all classifications. My paintings subscribe o no period or school. If they possess that sustaining power of meaning and authenticity which constitute the basic attributes of a work of art, as well as an awareness of the contemporary scene, they will be illustrative of the progressive trends of their time. Their visible concept may ostensibly reveal characteristics of Time and Place, but the roots reach deep into ethnic strains of ancient culture through which the archetype emerges as indicator of the universal and eternal urge toward creation.”

–Peter Krasnow, 1975


Peter Krasnow - Edward Henry Weston (24 Mar 1886- 1 June 1958)  1925While looking up some info on photographer Edward Weston, I came upon this portrait of him, shown here on the left, that really caught my eye.  I loved the colors and stylization. The artist listed as the painter was a name that I was not familiar with, Peter Krasnow.  Doing a bit of research, I stumbled upon another interesting life and body of work, one that evolved greatly over time.

Born in in the Ukraine in 1886, Krasnow learned the art of color mixing from his father who was a decorator.  Krasnow was Jewish and came to the US in 1907, fleeing the pogroms that had been taking place in his native land as well as seeking training as an artist.  He lived first in Boston then moved to Chicago to study at the Art Institute.  After graduating in 1916, he and his wife, who he had met in Chicago, moved to New York.

St. Andrew's One Cent Coffee StandHis work at that time was darker in tone, echoing the neighborhoods around their tenement home as well as recalling memories of his native Ukraine.  But Krasnow felt hemmed in by the dark urban landscape and upon the casual recommendation of an art critic, headed west to California in 1922.  He stayed there, except for a short residency in France, for the rest of his life.

In 1923, Krasnow purchased a parcel of land from photographer Edward Weston and built his studio.  Weston became a lifelong friend and Krasnow s0on found himself in a loose knit  group of  avant garde artists.  His palette changed to  lighter and airier colors that infused his landscapes.  After moving to France then returning he began experimenting with abstraction, both in paint and in sculpture, carving wooden totem-like pieces.  It was this work, along with his work as a printmaker, that occupied his career until his death in 1979 in California.

While he is not tremendously well known nor has his work achieved astronomical prices at auction, his impressive body of work work is vibrant and deserving of greater attention.  I really enjoy seeing the course of his work throughout his career, seeing the connection in seemingly disparate styles.  I know that I am glad to have come upon his work and will keep doing some research.

Krasnow  Self Portrait 1925

Peter Krasnow- Self Portrait 1925

Enigma (K-2) Krasnow  Totem Sculpture Krasnow  The River 1959

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This is  a very famous photo by Edward Weston of a nautilus shell that is considered one of the jumping off points for the Modernist movement in art back in the first quarter of the 20th century and one of the great photos of all time, selling a few years back at auction for over a million dollars.  It’s a beautiful and simple image that transcends itself.  I came across it recently along with a mention as to how it came about  when  Weston, on a trip to California,  encountered a painter whose work, particularly in some close up pieces of shell, greatly stimulated him.  Her name was Henrietta Shore.

It was not a name I had encountered  and doing a quick Google search came across a number of striking images that reminded me of Georgia O’Keeffe.   It turns out that she was a contemporary of O’Keeffe and  it was said that Shore’s work had eclipsed O’Keeffe’s when they were exhibited together, something which happened a few times.  Shore also had an incredible painting pedigree, training with the likes of William Merritt Chase, Robert Henri and even John Singer Sargeant.  She had lived in London and New York before moving to California, settling in Carmel around 1930.  Once there, she didn’t show her work much outside of the Carmel/Monterey region  and never really gained the notoriety that came to O’Keeffe.  It was another one of those cases where I have come across amazing talents who have fallen off the wider map for some reason that remains a mystery to me.

There is great sensuality in her work, for instance the human-like twist and feel of her Cypress trees, that I found really appealing, something I try to work into my own paintings.  Looking at Weston’s body of work, I can see the similarity in how he portrayed many of his subjects, finding wonderful beauty in simple twists and curves.

I also liked that she stopped dating her paintings because she  didn’t want them categorized into time frames in her career because she viewed her work and her life as being part of a continuum  that transcended time.  Again, something I hope for in my own work.  How had Henrietta Shore escaped my notice for all these many years?

There’s not a lot of data out there about Shore, at least with a quick search.  She didn’t have a long list of exhibitions after the 30’s and those that she did have were in the Monterey area, so became a sort of regional painter which doesn’t take anything away from her great talent.  It only deprives the rest of us from finding her and finding something for ourselves in her work.  Thankfully, modern technology and the web allows us to stumble across such a wonderful painter long after she has faded from the national stage, even though her work will always live on in the continuum.  Just plain good stuff…


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