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7 1/2 x 9 1/2 in (19.1 x 24.1 cm)
Swann Galleries - New York
Courtesy of Swann Galleries (Auction May 20, 2010, Sale 2215 Lot 279)
With Weston's signature, date and edition notations 12-40, in pencil, on mount recto and the title and date, in pencil, in an unknown hand, on mount verso.
Edward Weston: Photographs, 888/1935.
Edward Weston: One Hundred Photographs from the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art and the Hallmark Photographic Collection, 32.
Edward Weston: The Form of the Nude, 87.
Edward Weston: Life Work, 208.
In the spring of 1935 Edward Weston started a new business venture, which he called the "Edward Weston Print-of-the Month Club." Laid in to issues of Camera Craft magazine was a promotional piece explaining that, though prints by Weston typically cost $15 to $20, members of the club could purchase them for only $5 (or $60 for the year). Each month subscribers would automatically receive a new print. The total edition size for each photograph would not exceed forty (35 for the subscribers and 5 for the photographer). Unfortunately, Weston apparently received no more than 11 paid subscriptions. Thus, only 12 monthly prints were ever issued.
This particular image was much loved by Weston, in addition to being a Print-of-the-Month selection. The picture was also chosen as part of his Project Print series, in 1954, and Nancy Newhall used it in the maquette she assembled of her book on Weston's female nude studies.
In 1934 Weston met Charis Wilson, an adventurous young woman of twenty, who was the sister of one of his friends. She started out as a model but soon became the subject of many of his most acclaimed nude portraits. Weston, who was then in his late forties, and Charis became romantically involved, remaining together for close to 12 years, and were married from 1939 to 1945. During this time, Charis wrote the grant application that earned Weston a Guggenheim Fellowship. (He was the first photographer to receive one).
Clothed or unclothed, Weston's photographs of Charis are sensual and intimate, simple yet elegant. They are stunning examples of the play of light and shadow defining her form on the dunes, in the studio or on water. Many of Weston's nudes from the mid-1930s are close-ups set against a dark background, where the model is tightly framed, often slightly off center and seemingly detached from her body.
According to Amy Conger, "This was taken on the sunroof in Santa Monica. . . it is an unusually enigmatic and, therefore, avant-garde print for Weston: the harsh angle of the upper left of her body abruptly meets the very full bottom half, resembling a cork form a champagne bottle; a disembodied hand rests on her back, halfway between her shoulders; and a prominent black stripe cuts diagonally across the upper left corner, just touching the corner of her right shoulder."