Edward Weston, The Daybooks, April 22. 1932. Horizon Press, 1966

Creative Camera.

What I am now. where I stand. in this epochal time. fast-changing world. I frankly don't know. I certainly am not for the capitalist, nor the sovereign mass. The communists I know are ‘mouthing Puritans’, I do know where I stand re my work, though the ‘radicals’ (political) don’t think so. Funny, I have always been considered a radical by academic artists, but the communists probably would damn me as ‘bourgeois liberal’––because I do not portray the worker’s cause.

Despite all criticism my work is functioning. I receive continued and growing response from sensitive persons from all walks of life––yes, I do know my work has revolutionary significance, despite its lack of literary connotations. Peter Steffens said that Trotsky believes that new and revolutionary art forms may be of more value in awakening a people, or disturbing their complacency, or challenging old ideals with constructive prophecy of a coming change. I am not quoting him, rather using my own ideas to explain his thought as given to me. Now I must locate his own reference.

The artist must have an audience, must give.

We also discussed the reason for the unhappy, disturbed condition of so many American artists. It cannot be economic distress alone. artists have always been willing to suffer privation for their work. And besides, the most flagrant examples of a tortured psyche I know of belong to artists with economic security. Their condition in every case seems to me to be because they are not functioning in terms of their racial psyche, the collective subconscious. They have hangovers from European or other native ties, they are not assimilated, adapted to this soil. That they were American-born, even for several generations makes no difference, if they are still in the process of becoming adapted. The way of seeing and the means must grow from our own needs. All of the artists I have in mind are easel painters. They have stacks of paintings stored away. The fact that these are not purchased with money means nothing to these artists. But the fact that they are unsought means everything. The artist must have an audience, must give. I am happy in my work because I am giving, changing the lives, the viewpoint of hundreds. So does any fine photographer. Photography, as Walter Arensberg said, has brought a new world vision. People want my work, buy it, would buy more if times were better. So my work is functioning, is needed.

Photography is peculiarly adapted to the American psyche. No argument as to whether it is art or not can destroy its value. The fact is, it is not a medium which has reached the end of its value as an expression: it is vital in that it belongs to an epoch, a race in the making, the becoming.


2007-01-01 21:20:09



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The Complete Photographer, Vol. 9. No. 49. pp. 3200-3206. 1943

From The Daybooks of Edward Weston
From The Daybooks of Edward Weston

The Daybooks of Edward Weston. Vol. ll Horizon Press, New York 1966. 28 January,1932