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Arts of North America

Art created in North America includes objects made by native cultures of the present-day United States and Canada; paintings and decorative arts produced during colonial times; 18th- and 19th-century masterpieces; and the work of contemporary artists and photographers.

© 1981 Center for Creative Photography, Arizona Board of Regents
American, 1886 - 1958
Armco Steel
Palladium print with toning

Image/sheet: 9 9/16 x 7 5/8 inches

The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston

Gift of the estate of Caroline Wiess Law

Arts of North America

Edward Weston took this photograph at the American Rolling Mill Company in Middletown, Ohio, in 1922 while traveling from his California studio to New York City. The image demonstrates Weston's early departure from the Pictorialist style a soft-focus approach that aimed to put photography on a par with painting in favor of a more streamlined, abstract, and sharply focused aesthetic in picture-making. When he arrived in New York City and met Alfred Stieglitz, Georgia O'Keeffe, Charles Sheeler, and Paul Strand, among others, they influenced Weston to continue his exploration of Modernism in photography.
In Armco Steel, Weston created a powerful and overall abstract composition. This effect is derived from the bold and dynamic vertical thrust of seven tall smokestacks that appear as one wide stepped tower, and from the interaction of the smokestacks with the curved and horizontal pipes, all against a background of factory and office buildings that themselves form a Modernist grid. This photograph symbolizes the power, wealth, scale, and significance of the steel industry in 1920s America.

Weston was best known for his landscapes of the American West, particularly of the Northern California coast. Along with other important photographers such as Ansel Adams and Imogen Cunningham, he was a founding member of Group f/64. His influence was further extended by the publication of his diaries, in which he wrote of his aesthetics as well as of his life.

To view specific works by Weston in  the collection, contact the museum's Works on Paper Study Center for an appointment.