Nude on Sand, Oceano, 1936
Gelatin silver print. 7 ½ x 9 £x215d; in. (19.1 x 24.4 cm). Initialed, titled, dated, annotated '228N 36' in pencil and Beaumont and Nancy Newhall collection stamp on the verso. Accompanied by signed Cole Weston certificate of provenance.
Provenance: From the personal collection of Cole Weston; to the present Private Collection
Literature: Conger, Edward Weston in Mexico, 1923-1926, n.p.; Harry N. Abrams Inc., Edward Weston: Forms of Passion, p. 218
"I am stimulated to work with the nude body, because of the infinite combination of lines which are presented with every move." Edward Weston, 1927 (Theodore E. Stebbins, Jr., Weston's Westons; Portraits and Nudes, p. 26) In 1936, Edward Weston started a photographic series of nudes and sand dunes in Oceano, California, which is considered amongst his finest work. This series includes Nude on Sand, Oceano, 1936, in which Weston portrayed a nude female body as a modern figurative form reminiscent of an organic sculpture with harmonious and soft curves. The model in this series is Charis Wilson, who would later be his wife. Weston and Charis traveled to Oceano, where the dunes provided an incredibly rich setting with some reaching up to 100 feet high as they constantly changed with the wind. The vast and silent dunes gave Charis "an exhilarating sense of freedom." She commented: "I think that the dunes were photographically liberating as well…All the dune nudes were whole figures and in all of them the patterning of the surrounding landscape was an important part of the picture. The nudes to come would follow this lead-no more 'bits' and 'pieces,' only whole people in real places." (Amy Conger, Edward Weston, Figure 924) Charis physically expressed herself by relaxing on the sand and striking different positions. Weston found beauty in the delicate curves of her body set against the soft sand landscape. To capture this composition, he set up his camera on the opposite dune. The slightly higher perspective created a foreshortened effect. This further increased the drama of the sensuous curves. In this print and throughout his career, Weston sought beauty through the natural form of his subjects rather than idealized beauty or perfection. Additionally, he gave meaning to his subjects through his experimentation with light and perspective. The photographs from the entire Oceano series, and Nude on Sand in particular, demonstrate the visual power and technical excellence that are emblematic of Weston's mastery.