Edward Weston (American, Highland Park, Illinois 1886–1958 Carmel, California)

Gelatin silver print
Image: 24.2 x 19.2 cm (9 1/2 x 7 9/16 in.) Mount: 45.1 x 35.3 cm (17 3/4 x 13 7/8 in.)
Credit Line:
Gilman Collection, Purchase, The Horace W. Goldsmith Foundation Gift, through Joyce and Robert Menschel, 2005
Accession Number:
Rights and Reproduction:
©1981 Center for Creative Photography, Arizona Board of Regents
  • Description

    About this image, made in Mexico, Weston wrote in his "Daybooks" on October 21, 1925:

    For long I have considered photographing this useful and elegant accessory to modern hygienic life, but not until I actually contemplated its image on my ground glass did I realize the possibilities before me. . . . Here was every sensuous curve of the "human form divine" but minus imperfections.

    Typically, Weston's response is to form; ironically, it is the form of the most profane, the most functional of objects: a toilet. With "Excusado," Weston replaces the modernist canon "form follows function" with the notion of pure form--that is, form extracted from its function and related instead to the sensuous curves of the female body.
    For two weeks Weston studied and photographed the ordinary plumbing fixture from different angles. For this version he dispensed with the tripod, rested his 8 x 10-inch Seneca view camera on the floor, and directed the lens upward, lending unexpected volume and monumentality to his subject. He wrote that the "swelling, sweeping, forward movement of finely progressing contours" reminded him of the Victory of Samothrace.

  • Signatures, Inscriptions, and Markings

    Inscription: Signed and inscribed in pencil, on mount, recto(beneath image)BR: "Edward Weston // Mexico 1925"; (beneath image)BL: "EW 5/50"; Inscribed in pencil, on mount,verso TL: "5M // 1926"; TC: "Excusado"
    Printed paper sticker, on mount, recto BL: "225"

  • Provenance

    [Mark Kelman]; Gilman Paper Company Collection, New York, April 19, 1978

  • See also