Edward Weston - Passion & Humanity: The Susie Tompkins Buell Collection New York Thursday, April 4, 2019 | Phillips

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  • Provenance

    From the photographer to Merle Armitage, March 1928
    Collection of The San Diego Museum of Art, donated by Armitage, 1929
    Sotheby’s, New York, 17 April 1991, lot 221
    Page Imageworks, San Francisco, as agent

  • Exhibited

    Armitage Print Collection, Los Angeles Public Library, April 1928
    Mexico as Muse: Tina Modotti and Edward Weston, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, 2 September 2006 - 2 January 2007

  • Literature

    Conger, Edward Weston: Photographs from the Collection of the Center for Creative Photography, fig. 268
    Armitage, ‘The Photography of Edward Weston,’ Touring Topics, June 1930, n.p.
    Armitage, The Art of Edward Weston, p. 31
    Conger, Edward Weston in Mexico 1923-1926, p. 54, fig. 30
    Lowe and Thompson, Edward Weston: Life Work, pl. 33

  • Catalogue Essay

    From the time of his arrival in Mexico, Weston was struck by the handcrafts of the Mexican people. In Mexican pottery, carving, and textiles, Weston saw a unity of design and function that represented for him a kind of purity. His daybook from this period is full of rapturous descriptions of these: every marketplace held delights and he bought avidly. ‘With my meagre collection of Oaxaca juguettes I envy no one’s collection of “modern” sculpture,’ he wrote (Daybooks, Mexico, p. 165). In June of 1926, Weston encountered this grouping of ollas, pottery vessels used for storage, in the market square in Oaxaca. He wrote, ‘I worked there with my camera,--the big 8 x 10 box drawing a crowd of curious spectators. I did a “close up” of the heaped black ollas’ (ibid., p. 167).

    This print was purchased from Weston by his friend and avid supporter, Merle Armitage. Armitage was a book designer, writer, and musical impresario who appreciated Weston’s work at a time when photography’s status as a fine art was by no means universally accepted. In 1932, he published the first monograph on Weston’s work, The Art of Edward Weston, in which this image is included. Armitage understood Weston as a Modernist and praised his work’s ‘piercing intensity’ (Touring Topics, 1930). In the 1928 exhibition of graphic works from Armitage’s collection at the Los Angeles Public Library, Ollas, Oaxaca, was the sole photograph shown along with work by Pablo Picasso, Henri Matisse, James McNeill Whistler, John Marin, Rockwell Kent, and others. Shortly thereafter, Armitage donated this photograph to The San Diego Museum of Art, which had given Weston a solo exhibition in 1927.


Ollas, Oaxaca

Platinum or palladium print.
7 1/2 x 9 1/2 in. (19.1 x 24.1 cm)
Signed, dated and annotated ‘Oaxaca’ in pencil on the verso; signed, dated and annotated ‘Oaxaca’ in pencil on the mount.

$200,000 - 300,000 

Sold for $125,000

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Passion & Humanity: The Susie Tompkins Buell Collection

New York Auction 4 April 2019