Weingarten began the photographic series 6:30 A.M. on January 1, 2003 and concluded the project on December 31, 2003. Each day he was home during that calendar year, he photographed the Santa Monica Bay from his ocean view residence in Malibu, California. The exact time of exposure-6:30 in the morning, measured by the artist’s quartz clock-and the exact viewpoint remain constant throughout the series, but the colors of the sky, water and land vary dramatically throughout the year as daylight hours, weather patterns and seasons shift.
After traveling extensively for nearly a decade, capturing the Italian countryside in Tuscany and documenting Amish life in Pennsylvania, Weingarten came across Alfred Stieglitz’s quip that photographers should not travel in order to produce work if they cannot find inspiration locally first. Weingarten took this on as a challenge, turning his lens quite literally to his own backyard. In the spirit of Monet’s studies of light on the Rouen Cathedral, he chose the sunrise as his subject and imposed an additional set of technical parameters to allow for variability only in shutter speed and nature itself. Each photograph was captured with the same lens, the same aperture and the same brand of transparency film purchased at the same time.
The final images are faithful translations of the colors during sunrise in Malibu, with no manipulation. Not only can the camera record what the human eye cannot observe, such as the subtle movements of clouds and water over several seconds, but it functions without preconditioned ideas of how the world should look. While we may consider water to always be blue, the camera and film reveal a different-and constantly changing-reality. Daylight savings time resulted in the fluctuation between blue and red tones, and the crimson streaks that appear in November were the effect of severe wildfires in Southern California. With each photograph in 6:30 A.M., Weingarten invites us to reexamine our expectations and to look more closely at the familiar.
In 2005, a fully illustrated book for the series was published featuring a forward by J. Paul Getty Museum curator emeritus Weston Naef, and in 2014, selected works from 6:30 A.M were shown in the artist’s solo exhibition at the the Peabody Essex Museum in Salem, Massachusetts.
Robert Weingarten (b. 1941 Brooklyn, NY) is an American photographer noted for his innovative projects combining photography and digital composition. Born and raised in Brooklyn, Weingarten attended Baruch College in New York and, following his graduation, embarked on a thirty-year career in finance. In the early 1980s, he moved to Los Angeles. Although he had been passionate about photography since childhood and had since pursued it as a hobby, Weingarten decided to fully commit himself to the art only in the early 1990s.
In 1997, Weingarten debuted his first photographic series of Italian landscapes. In 2003, he began the noted 6:30 A.M. series, in which he chronicled the changing colors of sky, water and land by capturing an identical ocean view from his home in Malibu, California at the same time each day for a full calendar year. This series was shown in Weingarten’s 2014 solo exhibition at the the Peabody Essex Museum in Salem, Massachusetts. In the following Palette Series begun in 2004, Weingarten produced abstract compositions from the raw materials of the greatest living painters, including Jasper Johns and Wayne Thiebaud.
Weingarten has been the subject of solo exhibitions at Corcoran Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C.; the High Museum of Art in Atlanta, Georgia; the Peabody Essex Museum in Salem, Massachusetts; and the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C. Weingarten’s work is included in the permanent collections of the George Eastman House, High Museum, the J. Paul Getty Museum, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and the Whitney Museum of American Art. He holds the distinction Fellow of the Royal Photographic Society (FRPS) of Great Britain, and in 2004 his work was published in Another America: A Testimonial to the Amish by Steidl.