A key year for Aperture, 1965 saw both the appointment of Michael Hoffman as Executive Director of the foundation, and the publication of its first monograph. Edward Weston’s The Flame of Recognition was the first entry in the vast collection of works we know today. An influence on the photography world since the 1920s, at the end of which he published his first books filled with his philosophical thoughts on photography, Edward Weston had already, at the time of his death in 1958, been the subject of an entire issue of Aperture. The work from 1965 is a kind of culmination, and has since been considered a classic for its photographs as much as its writings. Endeavoring to share the photographer’s intentions, the book combines his strict and contemplative compositions—whose beauty a careless observer might miss—with reflections from a journal he kept in the 1940s. Weston described his role as an, “adventurer on a voyage of discovery, ready to receive fresh impressions, eager for fresh horizons—to identify myself in, and unify with, whatever I am able to recognize as a significantly part of me: the ‘me’ of universal rhythms.” These poetic words correspond to the iconic images of seashells, whose voluptuous shapes Weston captures with precision, presented in the clean light and widened frames that would become the standards for modern photography. A monument in the history of the medium, this book has been constantly in print since its release.
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