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Dody Weston Thompson
American Contemporary Photography
American, (1923–2012)
Scripps College is delighted to announce the recent gift of 461 photographs by mid-century American photographer Dody Weston Thompson. A key participant in the West Coast photography movement, Weston Thompson was also a major chronicler of that era. The gift of photographs, along with Weston Thompson’s archives, provide an unparalleled look into the work of this significant artist as well as that of some of the most important photographers of the 20th century, including Edward Weston and Ansel Adams. As assistant to both of them, Weston Thompson had unique access into the work and thoughts of these art history-changing artists.

Weston Thompson’s six-decade career has garnered much praise in its own right. She was notably recognized with an invitation to join f/64, an exclusive San Francisco photographer’s club whose founding members included Edward Weston, Ansel Adams, Willard Van Dyke, Imogen Cunningham, John Paul Edwards and others. In the 1950s, Weston Thompson counted many famous photographers among her friends and collaborators, including Adams, Cunningham, Alfred Stieglitz, Paul Strand and Minor White. In 1952, she was co-awarded—preceded only by Ansel Adams—the Alfred M. Bender award from the San Francisco Museum of Art for her black-and-white photographs of California. In line with the West Coast movement and f/64, her work reflects the transition away from impressionistic styles of the East Coast, favoring sharply focused, realistic photos of natural objects.

Throughout her artistic career Weston Thompson was well known for writing and lecturing on the history of photography, camera and darkroom techniques, and the work of her fellow artists. She cofounded the photography journal Aperture, then the only publication controlled by artists solely concerned with photography as an art. Throughout the years, Aperture has given voice to the field’s most acclaimed artists, including some of the most controversial, such as Diane Arbus and Jerry Uelsmann.

The collection displays Weston Thompson’s propensity to realize an underlying abstraction separate from the realistic portrayal of objects and people. She expresses the mysteries and complexities of life through composition and intricate layers of natural reality. She played with the dialogue between humans and nature, employing contrasting shapes, colors and textures and glorifying the beauty of things cast off.

The Ruth Chandler Williamson Gallery is grateful for this extraordinary gift, presented to Scripps by the Thompson Family Trust and made possible in part by Michael and Jane Wilson. It enriches the College’s art collection through its eloquent testimonial of the crucia


Artist Objects

2013.29.56

2013.29.60

A Mended Head 2013.29.112

Art Studio 2013.29.186

Bark 2013.29.81

Doors 2013.29.454

Dried Seaweed 2013.29.280

Dune and Sky 2013.29.392

Dying Tree 2013.29.75

Estuary No.1 2013.29.241

Estuary No.2 2013.29.242

Firewood Bin 2013.29.121

Gondolier 2013.29.2

Gopal 2013.29.301

Harry Oye 2013.29.337

Idee Levitan 2013.29.341

Kelp 2013.29.46

Kelp on Rock 2013.29.285

Log in Creek 2013.29.70

Manuel/Ramon 2013.29.297

Manuel/Ramon 2013.29.342

Paver Factory 2013.29.123

Pier and Bay 2013.29.193

Seafoam 2013.29.269

Shells 2013.29.104

Shells 2013.29.117

Tide 2013.29.270

Truck Engine 2013.29.438

Untitled 2013.29.478

Untitled 2013.29.480

Venice 2013.29.24

Victor, 1982 2013.29.168


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