3 Studies of Edward Weston by Reva Brooks
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Set of three Gelatin silver prints
Left: Crop mark annotations on image, and annotated with “√”, in pencil, au recto, Right: Annotated with “x”, in pencil, au recto
Printed circa 1952
Born in Canada, Reva Brooks (1913 - 2004) moved to Mexico in 1947 with her husband Leonard. Although Brooks made photographs while she was still in Canada, it wasn’t until she settled in San Miguel de Allende that her work took an important turn. The initial plan was to stay for just one year, but the city and the lifestyle fascinated the couple to the extent that they remained in Mexico for over 50 years.
As Leonard studied painting, Reva began making photographs of rural parts of San Miguel de Allende. The key to Brooks’ work was the approach she took with the local population. For Brooks, it wasn’t enough to simply take photographs of unknown people; she would spend her days socializing with her subjects, understanding their lives and finally making a visual record of it. As a result of this approach, Brooks’ photographs have a relaxed atmosphere; one that captures the struggles and joyful moments of the people in her adopted society.
Within just a few years, Brooks’ work was recognized across America and Europe and her photographs were collected by people like the esteemed photographer and curator Edward Steichen. Thanks to the encouragement of Steichen, and a few other notable advocates, Brooks’ photographs were shown in prestigious galleries and museums, including New York City’s Museum of Modern Art and its influential 1955 photography exhibition, The Family of Man.
Reva Brooks’ 50 years of making photographs in Mexico gave her audience insight into lives lived outside the heavily documented United States of the mid-20th century. Although initially valued primarily for her compositions, the social-documentary impact of her work is equally notable today. Brooks died in 2004 in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico.
- This trio of snapshots by Reva Brooks capture esteemed fellow-photographer Edward Weston in an informal setting. Crop mark annotations and other details in pencil are visible, lending additional interest to these small prints. Evident in these photographs is Brooks’ generally at-ease approach to her subjects, resulting in these warm portrait studies of one of the most important artists of the 20th century.
- Life, Death, and Art: On the Photography of Reva Brooks - Lit Hub, October 2018