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

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  • Provenance

    Collection of Carlos Mérida, likely acquired from Edward Weston
    Lowinsky Gallery, New York, 1993
    Page Imageworks, San Francisco, as agent

  • Exhibited

    Tina Modotti & Edward Weston: The Mexico Years, Barbican Centre, London, 29 April - 1 August 2004
    Mexico as Muse: Tina Modotti and Edward Weston, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, 2 September 2006 - 2 January 2007

  • Literature

    Lowe, Tina Modotti & Edward Weston: The Mexico Years, pl. 37 (this print)

  • Catalogue Essay

    Edward Weston made an excursion to the Pre‐Columbian archaeological site at Teotihuacán in November of 1923, accompanied by a small group of artists and friends and ‘three cameras, good food, and plenty of wine’ (Daybooks, Mexico, p. 33). The massive Pyramid of the Sun, the center of the ancient city of Teotihuacán, was then, as now, one of the most significant surviving monuments of Mesoamerica, and Weston photographed it from two different vantage points. The view most frequently reproduced is the Pyramid from a distance (Conger 108); far scarcer is the present view, which, in Weston’s treatment, transcends the documentary to achieve a more profound of visual experience.

    In the image offered here, the viewer is no longer grounded in conventional space. Instead, there is only the structure’s strong diagonal geometry and the amorphous shapes of the clouds that float against the sky. As in Weston’s Palm Trunk, Cuernavaca (lot 21), the horizon line has disappeared. This other-worldly effect is enhanced by the bravura quality of this print, whose extraordinary tonalities are filled with both detail and space, and which places the viewer in the realm of magic realism.

    This photograph comes originally from the collection of the celebrated Guatemalan‐born artist Carlos Mérida (1891‐1987), who was active in Mexico in the 1920s. The date of Weston and Mérida’s first meeting is unknown, but they had several acquaintances in common and traveled in the same artistic circles. Weston photographed one of Mérida’s murals in 1926 (Conger 533) and made a portrait of Mérida in Carmel in 1934 (Conger 793). Their work was exhibited together at The Museum of Modern Art, New York, in 1948, in a show called This Is Contemporary Art. Other artists in the exhibition included Henry Moore, Georges Braque, Fernand Léger, Wassily Kandinsky, and Joan Miró.

    On the reverse of this print’s mount are the faint outlines of Tina Modotti’s portrait of a woman named Tilly. This image transfer, or offsetting, indicates that the present print by Weston and a print of Modotti’s photograph were physically adjacent for some length of time.

    At the time of this writing, only one other print of this image has been located, in the collection of the Museo Regional de Guadalajara, acquired by that museum in 1924.


Piramide del Sol

Platinum or palladium print.
7 3/8 x 9 5/8 in. (18.7 x 24.4 cm)
Signed or credited, titled, dated and annotated ‘Mexico D. F.’ by the photographer or an associate in pencil on the mount.

$100,000 - 150,000 

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Passion & Humanity: The Susie Tompkins Buell Collection

New York Auction 4 April 2019