EDWARD WESTON (1886-1958) Dunes, Oceano. Silver contact print, the image measuring 7 1/2x9 1/2 inches (19x24.1 cm.), the sheet slightly larger, with Weston's inventory numbers, in pencil, and additional notations, also in pencil, in an unknownhand, on verso. 1936
From Vintage Works, Ltd.; to Swann Galleries; acquired by a Private Collector, in 1993.
In 1935 Edward Weston relocated to Santa Monica Canyon, near the Los Angeles beach. The setting would inspire his series of Dunes photographs, a total of 48 different images depicting the shifting soil formations along the California coastline.
Gradated sand intersecting with an illuminated sky highlight the dunes in Oceano, which appear in a constant state of flux, effortlessly changing form in a mystical dance. A painterly scene results, as Weston's tender approach to the landscape left reality untouched. The dimensionality that results invokes continuous movement, capturing not a still image but one in perpetual transition.
Weston's Guggenheim Fellowship application describes the formalist approach he employed in Oceano, in which he searches specifically for natural beauty, shying away from recreating his surroundings to capture a preconceived image. "I do not retouch nor manipulate my negatives in any way. I use no artificial light. I do not enlarge; which means that I use an 8x10 camera, and present an untrimmed version of my original conception as seen on the ground-glass. All of which means that I am a 'purist'--believing that photography can have value only if it is honest, not imitating or competing with any other form of expression."
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