Ted & Ed

Posted on May 11, 2023 | No Comments

Ted Cook with Contax, Laguna
A portrait by Edward Weston

Ted Cook with Contax, Laguna. 1937
9 5/8″ x 7 5/8″ Vintage gelatin silver print
Signed and dated in pencil on mount recto

This vintage 1937 original looks like it could have been taken today.
Who was Ted Cook?

We discovered that he was a journalist in Los Angeles. In 1923–1924 he worked as the editor in chief for the Los Angeles Record, and later wrote for the Los Angeles Examiner. He had his own nationally syndicated humor column “Cook-Coos” in the 1930s and ’40s. But he was also intertwined with the art scene, specifically photography.

In 1932, he was a member of the art committee for the New School for Social Research in Los Angeles, chaired by LA art critic Arthur Millier. The committee provided the platform to unveil Street Meeting, the first American fresco by Mexican painter David Alfaro Siqueiros. The mural was commissioned by and painted at the Chouinard School of Art in Los Angeles.

A few years later, in March 1935, we find Ted Cook now traveling to Mexico with Pancho Barnes and George Hurrell. They were on assignment: a paid editorial with photography about Mexico, funded by Dolores Del Rio. Ted Cook was the writer for the expedition. Hurrell’s career timeline mentions shooting photos with Edward Weston in January 1936, followed by another trip to Mexico for Hurrell and Cook in June 1936.

In the Edward Weston Archive at the Center for Creative Photography, they show a record of correspondence between Cook and Weston for a number of years. The two had become good friends.

With this timeline, we have additional context for the 1937 Edward Weston photograph Legs in Hammock, which shows Charis Wilson’s legs outstretched.

Legs in Hammock, Laguna. 1937

This vintage print is at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.
It is inscribed “At Ted Cook’s” on the mount verso.

There is one Ted Cook photograph held by the Eastman Museum, dated c. 1943.
He is mentioned in the 2006 book A Staggering Revolution: A Cultural History of Thirties Photography by John Raeburn.

Ted Cook passed away in 1966 at the age of 74.

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