Dunes, Oceano

Dunes, Oceano


Edward Weston

(American, 1886-1958)

Gelatin silver print

Image: 19.1 x 24.1 cm (7 1/2 x 9 1/2 in.); Mounted: 33.4 x 40.6 cm (13 1/8 x 16 in.); Matted: 45.7 x 55.9 cm (18 x 22 in.)

Severance and Greta Millikin Purchase Fund 2001.92



Iconic 20th-century American landscape photographs, Weston’s views of the dunes near Oceano, California, hover between representation, abstraction, and metaphor. They were a definitive break from earlier romantic, narrative depictions of Western landscapes. Weston’s sharply focused view of this natural phenomenon becomes a rhythmic design of darks and lights, gentle curves, and crisp edges. The hills of sand echo the waves of the sea, visible at the top of the picture. During the Depression, the dunes housed a squatter community of artists, poets, and recluses that sometimes included two of Weston’s sons. The photographer camped out in an abandoned cabin while shooting there, which involved lugging 50 pounds of equipment including a bulky 8-x-10-inch view camera and tripod through the shifting sands.

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