Edward Weston - Photographs New York Monday, July 13, 2020 | Phillips

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  • Provenance

    The artist to Van Deren Coke, San Francisco
    Edwynn Houk Gallery, Chicago
    Private Collection, Chicago
    Christie’s, New York, 9 October 1997, lot 83

  • Literature

    Conger, Edward Weston: Photographs from the Collection of the Center for Creative Photography, fig. 941
    Getty Publications, In Focus: Edward Weston, Photographs from The J. Paul Getty Museum, pl. 38
    Lodima Press, Edward Weston: Life Work, pl. 73
    Merrell, Edward Weston: A Legacy, pl. 11
    Newhall, The Photographs of Edward Weston, p. 22

  • Catalogue Essay

    “I made several dune negatives that mark a new epoch in my work. I must go back there—the material made for me!” – Edward Weston

    Edward Weston began his iconic series of studies of the dunes at Oceano in 1934 when he first visited the area. In his daybook entry for 20 April, he wrote: ‘I made several dune negatives that mark a new epoch in my work. I must go back there—the material made for me!’ The massive dunes at Oceano created an ever-shifting landscape of pure and unadorned form, and the subject matter was ideally suited to Weston’s vision. In a state of constant change, reshaped continuously by wind and water, the dunes presented completely new subject matter to Weston on each visit over the ensuing years.

    The photograph offered here—frequently referred to by the alternate title Black Dunes— is one of the most celebrated and most distinctive from the series. It is remarkable for its preponderance of shadows which add depth and drama to the image, and for Weston’s meticulous management of sunlight to enhance the detail in the foreground and to delineate the ridge lines that recede into the distance. Weston included the image in his celebrated retrospective at The Museum of Modern Art, New York in 1946, and it was shown in The World of Edward Weston, an exhibition curated by Beaumont and Nancy Newhall which originated at the Smithsonian Institution in 1956 and traveled to other venues.

    This print was originally acquired from Weston by photographer, curator, and author Van Deren Coke (1921-2004). Coke met Weston as a young man in 1938, and continued his friendship with the photographer until Weston’s death. When this photograph first appeared at auction in 1997, the catalogue entry referenced a 1981 letter written by Coke stating that he got this photograph from Weston ‘in about 1938.’


Dunes, Oceano

Gelatin silver print, probably printed in the 1940s.
7 5/8 x 9 1/2 in. (19.4 x 24.1 cm)
Initialed and dated in pencil on the mount; titled in pencil on the reverse of the mount.

$60,000 - 80,000 

Sold for $68,750

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New York Auction 13 July 2020