Illustrating Leaves of Grass


Walt Whitman’s epic American poetry is the fulcrum for a photography exhibition at the Boston Museum of Fine Arts through the end of this year.  In 1941, influential photographer Edward Weston was invited to illustrate Whitman’s Leaves of Grass, inspiring Weston and his wife, Charis, on a cross-country photo trip.

Although he never wanted his images to literally reflect Whitman’s text, Weston did relate to the poet’s plainspoken style and his emphasis on the broad spectrum of human experience. –Exhibition Notes  (Above:  Bottle Farm, Ohio. Top of post: Charis and Our Camp, Galveston, Texas. )

Mammy’s Cupboard, Natchez, Mississippi

Mr. and Mrs. W. P. Fry, Burnet, Texas

Grand Canyon, Arizona

Weston covered 24 states and nearly 25,000 miles during the 10-month trip. Like Whitman’s poetry about America, the 40+ images in the exhibit focus on the history and beauty of the country and the forthrightness of its ordinary citizens.

Woodlawn Plantation House, Louisiana

Boulder Dam

Leaves of Grass is one of my favorite pieces of literature. I have this preface to the volume over my desk.

More on Walt Whitman, here.

More on Edward Weston, here.

A good review on the exhibit from The Boston Globe, here.

All photos are from The Lane Collection, Boston Museum of Fine Arts

There are 3 comments

    1. boomerontario

      Hi – Well that’s a good thing! I love re-reading it from time to time, but I’m afraid I don’t follow Whitman’s direction that you should read it once a year. Thanks.

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