Frank H. Boos Gallery, 1 February 2001, Lot 800
During World War II, Charis Weston volunteered for the Aircraft Warning Service, a group of citizens who took shifts monitoring the skies over the California coast for enemy planes. Because of her involvement in this civilian defense effort, she was issued a gas mask. She recounted that when she first brought it home, Weston suggested making a series of nude studies:
'Both of us were repelled by the mask, and found [making the photographs] harder than expected. He said repeatedly that it was an awful thing, and difficult to make part of the picture rather than the picture; for a counterweight he tried a fern frond from the yard, and then a plate of peaches' (Through Another Lens: My Years with Edward Weston, p. 309).
Two photographs resulted from this sitting: the present image, and a more prosaic, vertical-format, seated nude (Conger 1695). Prints of either image are scarce. The negative for the photograph offered here is not owned by the Center for Creative Photography, the repository of Weston's negatives; and, as Conger relates, the negative for the vertical-format study was saved from destruction by Bea Prendergast, who later donated it to the Center. At Edward Weston's insistence, both images were included in his 1946 retrospective at The Museum of Modern Art.
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