Edward Weston: Nudes (Aperture, 1973), p. 86
Theodore E. Stebbins, Jr., Weston's Westons: Portraits and Nudes (Boston: Museum of Fine Arts, 1989), pl. 53
Theodore E. Stebbins, Jr., Karen Quinn, and Leslie Furth, Edward Weston: Photography and Modernism (Boston: Museum of Fine Arts, 1999), pl. 74
Manfred Heiting, ed., Edward Weston (Cologne, 2004), p. 156
Kurt Markus, Dune: Edward & Brett Weston (Kalispell, 2003), p. 59
Weston's first photographs of the massive sand dunes at Oceano, near Pismo Beach and San Luis Obispo, were made in 1934 when he visited the area with fellow photographer Willard Van Dyke. In 1936, Weston revisited Oceano with his lover and eventual wife, Charis Wilson. The couple stayed there several days in an abandoned guest cabin, sharing meals with a group of squatters, known as 'Dunites.' Weston's principle objective was to photograph the area's remarkable sand dunes, and he set out each morning with his unwieldy large view camera, tripod, and a case of loaded film holders. It was on this trip that he produced what are arguably his best-known landscapes.
This excursion also yielded the portraits of Charis on the dunes that are among Weston's most important, modernist nude studies. In his photographic career up to 1936, Weston had already produced a significant number of nude studies, the overwhelming majority of which were made in the studio. It was not until reaching Oceano with Charis in 1936 that Weston was inspired to produce an extended series of outdoor nude studies. In the best of these images, the evenly illuminated nude form, delineated by a thin relief of shadow, is offset perfectly by the balanced mid-tones of the sand background. In the photograph offered here, an exceptional level of detail is visible on Charis’s frame, notably individual grains of sand coating her spine and feet.
Edward Weston authority Amy Conger notes that there are two copies of the variant (with Charis’s head on the right side of the composition) located at the Norton Simon Museum, Pasadena, California and a Project Print in the Special Collections, University of California, Santa Cruz.
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