Charis Wilson

Thanks to James Danziger on his ‘The Year in Pictures’ blog I learnt recently of the death of Charis* Wilson, and he gave a link to her obituary in the New York Times which gives a good idea of her life and the support she gave to Edward Weston, as muse, driver, writer and companion during their eleven years together.

These were Weston’s most productive years  and the book which she wrote – with Wendy Madar – ‘Through Another Lens – My Years with Edward Weston‘ , published in 1998, I think gives a real insight into his creative processes – definitely something to be read alongside his sometimes rather pompous but often fascinating Daybooks.

Her writing is a vital part of ‘California and the West‘ “with 64 photographs by Edward Weston” and as well as the text of the book based on the detailed logs she kept on their journeys, she wrote the Guggenheim application that made it possible.

Although biography can sometimes be a distraction from actually seeing and evaluating the work of photographers (and others)  – and the intense fascination of many with Weston’s love life is perhaps a good example of this – it can also give insights into the work.  ‘Through Another Lens‘ I think does that for the partnership between Weston and Wilson that led to some of his best work.

Of course Charis Wilson had a long and interesting life away from Weston – she was only 19 when they met, 30 when they separated and lived to 95.  You can read a little more about that too in the NYT obit.

* from the Greek  meaning ‘grace’ and pronounced ‘Karis’

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