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."
Inscription: [No annotations or inscriptions]
[Helios Arts Inc., New York]; Gilman Paper Company Collection, New York, February 17, 1978
Maddow, Ben. Edward Weston: Fifty Years. 1st ed. Millerton, N.Y.: Aperture, 1973. fig. 291.
Conger, Amy. Edward Weston: Photographs from the Collection of the Center for Creative Photography. Tucson: Center for Creative Photography, Tucson, 1992. fig. 544/1927.
Mora, Gilles, ed. Edward Weston: Forms of Passion. New York: H. N. Abrams, 1995. 151.