Like their painter counterparts, many photographers experimented with abstraction in the 1920s and 1930s, exploring relations of form, tonality, and space. Here, Weston isolates a nautilus shell against a solid black ground, creating a study of curves, subtle shadows, and contrasts between light and dark. As in many of his close-ups of natural forms, the nautilus appears both recognizable and yet strangely unfamiliar. Unlike the rigorously nonrepresentational compositions of photographers like László Moholy-Nagy, Weston’s abstractions always remained grounded in objects from the real world; as he wrote in 1930, "To see the Thing Itself is essential."
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[Helios Arts Inc., New York]; Gilman Paper Company Collection, New York, February 17, 1978