American Modern: Hopper to O'Keeffe

Edward Weston (American, 1886–1958)
Pepper No. 30
Gelatin silver print
9 7/16 x 7 1/2" (24 x 19 cm)
Gift of David H. McAlpin

Edward Weston. Pepper No. 30. 1930

Gelatin silver print, 9 7/16 x 7 1/2" (24 x 19 cm). Gift of David H. McAlpin Audio courtesy of Antenna International

Director, Glenn Lowry: This image of a pepper is one of Weston’s most iconic photographs.

Assistant Curator, Esther Adler: Peppers often curve in on themselves and can kind of twist a bit. And by putting us close to this one and lighting it so carefully, Weston almost elevates it to the status of a human figure. So you can kind of read these two forms of heads leaning in towards each other, or you can read the twisted form of the pepper body as someone’s back.

Esther Adler: You can also see in the lower right of the image that there’s this area where the pepper is starting to show some signs of wrinkling and maybe spoilage. But that’s not something that’s edited out by Weston; it just becomes another part of this very real object that’s being celebrated here.

The still life arrangement is, of course, one of the oldest subjects for artworks. But what’s fascinating about American artists working during this time is that they’re turning back to many of these very classic ways of working but in new modern ways.

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