One of the most influential American photographers of the 20th century, Edward Weston has had a significant impact on the history of photography. One of Weston’s much-quoted mottoes is “Presentation instead of interpretation,” meaning an attempt to illustrate things as they are in order to show their essence allowing the viewer to see beyond the object. Weston started making a series of monumental close-ups of seashells, peppers, and cabbages, showing their sculptural forms through photographic means during the late 1920s. These particular photographs demonstrate Weston’s extraordinary sense of the texture of surfaces, which he depicted with a superb richness of varying black-and-white tones. As demonstrated in Weston’s images and writing, no other vegetable or object seemed to have such appeal and lasting power for him as that of the cabbage. Weston began making arrangements with cabbage in the summer of 1927 and he would finish working with them in 1936. Writing excitedly in the early 1930s he said:
Even though Weston believed in presentation and not interpretation as being of artistic concern to him, it is his exquisite compositions of natural objects that frequently enthrall viewers because they evoke ambivalent interpretations by associations of forms. Technically, what enabled Weston to make close-up, razor sharp images was his use of an 8 x 10 inch view camera, his method of lush printing, and using various types of printing-out papers which could capture the copious amount of information that was in the negative. Later his negatives continued to be printed by two of his sons, Cole and Brett Weston, who became famous photographers in their own right. Cabbage Leaf is included in the collections of such esteemed institutions as the Art Institute of Chicago, ICP at George Eastman House, the Nelson Atkins Museum of Art of Kansas City, and the San Francisco Museum of Modern. It remains one of the most important and exemplary images in not only the oeuvre of Edward Weston, but also in the lineage of fine art photography.