Edward Weston, Nude in the Dunes, 1930
So to begin my list of favorite photographs for the end of 2012, I’d like to start with Edward Weston’s, “Nude in the Dunes, 1930.” Please click the hyperlink above to see the image. Weston was a master at photographing the nude. So there are a number of wonderful nudes to consider when looking for a favorite. In particular we have to consider the marvelous folded “Nude, 1936,” “Nude, 1936” is a classic example of beautiful and peaceful static abstraction. What I like about “Nude in the dunes, 1930,” is that the nude is placed in the lower third of the image, following the very traditional “Golden Rule of Thirds.” However, this placement and the sand dune above it gives the image a dynamic sense of motion. You feel that the nude is slowly slipping out of the picture and you feel the need to push her back up towards the center. This kind of “trick of the eye” is classic and is here used marvelously.
Weston’s goal in his nudes was to create a perfect sense of the abstract. For me there is always a sense of the sensuous in Weston’s imagery. This flows from the nudes into his abstract images of shells and vegetables, see for instance “Two Shells, 1927” and, of course, “Pepper No. 30., 1930.” In writing about “Pepper No. 30., 1930” Weston said:
“It is classic, completely satisfying, – a pepper – but more than a pepper: an abstract, in that it is completely outside subject matter. It has no psychological attributes, no human emotions are aroused: this new pepper takes me beyond the world we know in the conscious mind.”
I was surprised, when I first read that, because for me the appeal of his vegetables and shell images lies in their sensuosity. They strike our eye because they take on a human character. They move us for the very reason that they elicit human emotion.