Edward Weston (American, 18861958)
Gelatin silver print; 5 13/16 x 9 3/16 in. (14.8 x 23.4 cm)
Gilman Collection, Purchase, Ann Tenenbaum and Thomas H. Lee Gift, 2005 (2005.100.142)
© 1981 Center for Creative Photography, Arizona Board of Regents
Edward Weston is considered by many the primary exponent of straight photography in America. The numerous awards, honors, and successes he enjoyed before 1920 place his early work firmly within the Pictorialist tradition. By 1920, however, his increased exposure to avant-garde developments in the visual arts prompted his break with Pictorialism, and he spent the years 1923 to 1926 in Mexico, a site as liberating for Weston in the achievement of his mature style as Paris was for other artists at that time.
This photograph was taken in 1925, probably during Weston's eight-month return visit to California during his Mexican period. The model may have been Miriam Lerner, who is known to have posed at least twice for Weston during these months. The image presents a radically reduced formal vocabulary. Almost unrecognizable as a nude and equally legible as a landscape or sculpture, the smooth contours of the androgynous form can be appreciated for the integrity and rhythm of their abstract qualities, suggesting the influence of Constantin Brancusi, whose inspiration Weston readily acknowledged.