Edward and Flora

Nude, Flora Chandler Weston, 1909

Legendary photographer Edward Weston is most often connected with Northern California. The modernist known for his mastery of form had a studio in Carmel and co-founded Group f/64 with Ansel Adams and others. Not as well known is that Weston began his career as a portrait photographer in the Los Angeles area.

Weston moved here from Illinois in 1906, settling in Tropico, now part of Glendale. He married his sister's best friend, Flora May Chandler. She became the mother of their four sons, and quietly suffered as he pursued affairs with exotic women in his circle such as Tina Modotti and Margrethe Mather.

Flora supported Weston financially much of the time, working as a schoolteacher. Some biographies have called her part of the Chandler family that owned the Los Angeles Times, but she had no connection to their wealth.

This platinum print nude of Flora, taken in 1909, is part of a new Weston exhibit that opens at the Getty Museum on July 31. In a companion lecture on Sept. 13, Weston biographer Beth Gates Warren will discuss new details of the photographer's complex relationship with Flora and his lack of love for Los Angeles.

In Edward Weston: His Life, author Ben Maddow quotes him saying:

My disgust for that impossible village of Los Angeles grows daily. Give me Mexico, revolution, smallpox, poverty, anything but the plague spot of America – Los Angeles. All sensitive, self-respecting persons should leave there…

Warren, author of Margrethe Mather and Edward Weston: A Passionate Collaboration, told me she plans to divulge how Weston destroyed most of the records of his 17 years here. He was trying to re-write Los Angeles out of his personal history. I'm so there.

Photo: © 1981 Arizona Board of Regents, Center for Creative Photography

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