by Charis with Wendy Madar Wilson ‧ RELEASE DATE: May 1, 1998
A memoir of the famed photographer at his peak, by his model, wife, and confidante. Wilson was herself nationally famous 60 years ago, thanks to the series of nude photographs Weston shot of her in places like Yosemite and Death Valley. The daughter of Harry Leon Wilson, the author of Ruggles of Red Gap and other contemporary bestsellers, Wilson was 27 years Weston's junior. But, like him, she was a passionate reader, filmgoer, and follower of Franklin Roosevelt, and from these shared interests they formed a marriage that lasted for many years, despite Weston's philandering. Wilson never falls into hero worship, although she clearly admires her husband for his character and for the world to which he introduced her, featuring everything from Brancusi sculptures and jazz sessions to parties with the likes of Ansel Adams, Robinson Jeffers, Merle Armitage, and other mainstays of the Carmel bohemian community. She admits that Weston, like many a creative type, had his difficult qualities, but she defends him stoutly against biographers who take the Weston found in his journals and daybooks to be the man himself, a figure ""dogmatic, fierce, uncompromising, licentious, obsessed by death, and so on."" He was to some degree all these, she writes, yet, she goes on to observe, ""the self is too cumbersome, various, and confusing to be successfully transcribed, so you settle for a stand-in who can represent you by bearing a number of your salient traits."" Wilson, who was with Weston throughout the years of his most accomplished photographic work, does much to flesh out this stand-in. She also provides, with a light but sure touch, an intellectual history of Weston's time and place, California in the 1930s and '40s, a portrait that students of the Golden State's artists and writers will find exceptionally interesting. A sympathetic and altogether enjoyable portrait of a great artist in his prime.
Pub Date: May 1, 1998
Page Count: 416
Publisher: North Point
Review Posted Online: N/A
Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 1998
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