Tuesday, May 28, 2013

la femmes de edward weston - flora chandler/margrethe mather

flora chandler photographed by edward weston, 1909

flora chandler was the daughter of a wealthy land-holding family (some sources say the family would later own the los angeles times, some disagree). seven years his senior, flora was introduced to weston by his sister and her great friend mary. in 1909 they married. a year later, in 1910, their first son, chandler, was born. following were brett in 1911, neil in 1914 & cole in 1919.

somewhere along the way weston's fidelity waned & his attachment to middle-class domestic life evaporated. they would remain married through many of his affairs....shortly before his death, his son cole weston, lamented the poor treatment his mother received. "she was a lonely women. lived a lonely life," he said.  edward & flora maintained an uneasy exchange throughout their lives.  they just couldn't live with each other - weston said he knew he "should have never married her."  still, flora would often provide him with money - doing so throughout their separation when he moved to mexico.  despite her continuing support, weston railed against the domineering and caustic effect she had on his life and on his relationships with his sons.

they would finally divorce in 1937 after being apart for 16 years.

epilogue photographed by edward weston, 1919

edward weston in shadow, photograph attributed to margrethe mather, 1919-1920

prelude to a sad spring photographed by edward weston, 1920

edward weston and margrethe mather 4, photographed by imogen cunningham, 1922

edward weston and margrethe mather photographed by imogen cunningham, 1923

margrethe mather in my studio photographed by edward weston, 1921

nude, edward weston and margrethe mather photographed by imogen cunningham, 1923

margrethe mather was a self-trained photographer. she pioneered dramatic empty space & startling asymmetrical compositions. it is interesting in researching this that most "bios" jump right over her & focus on weston's relationships with tina modotti & charis wilson.  many mention her as simply one of weston's models.

she supposedly left salt lake city because she was a child prostitute & there were people who'd found out about her activities. not much is really known about her early life, although her real name was discovered to be emma caroline youngren.

mather & weston met some time in the fall of 1913 & within a few months they developed an intense relationship. she first became his studio assistant & for the next decade they worked closely together.  in 1920 mather because an equal partner is his studio & by 1921 they were making individual & jointly signed portraits.  this was the only time that weston ever shared credit with another photographer. many have argued the she heavily influenced his work & style, turning him in a more experimental direction by introducing his to her circle of free-thinking artists.

by 1923, the "passionate collaboration" broke down. weston went off to mexico with tina modotti & mather continued to work in los angeles but by then her health was already eroding from multiple sclerous, undiagnosed at that time. 

a decade later weston described her as "the most important person in my life, and perhaps even now, through personal contact has gone, the most important." for whatever reason, she seemed unwilling or unable to speak about their collaboration & relationship. she asked nancy newhall, who was editing weston's diaries at the time to leave her unremembered.  she almost succeeded.  

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