|Pepper, #30, 1930 by Edward Weston, Gelatin Silver Print|
This image is one of a series of peppers made by Edward Weston. It is considered to be one of the early 20th century photographic masterpieces by one of the most innovative photographers. It also happens to be one of the most expensive images ever sold.
Regardless of this, it is one of my favorite images for several reasons, all of which make a strong argument as to why photography is such a great art-making medium.
First, it proves that you don't need a special event or happening to make a compelling image, through photographic means this ordinary object is transformed into something extra-ordinary thereby affirming that anything can be seen as art.
Weston used light and composition to convert a recognizable object into one that is abstract and suggestive. His use of a tight crop and low vantage point not only isolates the object but allows the scale of the object to be brought into question despite our better understanding of it. This makes this iconic image to become not just one of a pepper but one that allows the mind to wander. Similar to our natural tendency to see recognizable shapes in amorphous clouds, the soft tonal rendering of the organic shape takes on a sensual identity and transforms the vegetable into a seemingly human form.
In doing so, Weston underscores the transcending power of photography and helped establish the medium's relationship to Modernism and art.