EDWARD WESTON (1886–1958)

Dunes, Oceano, 1936
gelatin silver print, mounted on board
signed and dated in pencil (mount, recto); signed, titled, dated and inscribed 'To LeRoy, fine photographer and friend, Edward 1936' in pencil (mount, verso)
image/sheet: 7 1/2 x 9 1/2 in. (19 x 24.1 cm.)
‌mount: 13 1/4 x 15 1/4 in. (33.6 x 38.7 cm.)
Gifted by the artist to photographer LeRoy Robbins (1904 - 1987);
‌by descent to the present owner.

Edward Weston, Edward Weston: Fifty Years, Aperture, New York, 1973, p. 175.
Exhibition Catalogue, The Charlot Collection of Edward Weston Photographs, Honolulu Academy of Arts, Hawaii, 1984, p. 14.
Amy Conger, Edward Weston: Photographs from the Collection of the Center for Creative Photography, Center for Creative Photography, Tucson, 1992, fig. 937/1936.
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Lot Essay

'The dunes are endless. You’ll never run out of new subjects.’ Edward, who was brimming with excitement over the material he was finding, assured me he would never run out where he was, because the dunes were changing constantly right before our eyes. He was right – if you examine the dune pictures carefully, you can almost always find a soft spot of moving sand somewhere in the landscape.' -- Charis Wilson

These words of Charis Wilson, Edward Weston’s partner and most important muse, summarizes the passion he felt for his newfound stimulating subject: the Oceano Dunes along the coast of California. Of all of Weston’s photographs from the late thirties, his abstracted depictions of sand dunes are some of his most celebrated. His earliest interest in the dunes is documented in 1934, coincidently the same year he met Charis, who would become integral to his work. Two years later the couple would make Oceano their home, residing in an abandoned cabin from which Weston would venture early in the morning to catch the ‘moving sand.’

This fully signed and mounted vintage Dunes Oceano, 1936 offered here is a superb example from Weston’s dunes series. A rich blend of moving lines and fleeting shadows, Weston allowed nature to lead him. The shifting interplay between light and dark, curvy and rippling patterns coalesce into a mesmerizing composition that seems endless. This photograph is extremely rare; vintage prints of this image have not come to auction in the last thirty years. One of Weston’s favorite images from this series, this particular photograph is a historical object. Inscribed and gifted to fellow photographer LeRoy Robbins, it illustrates the interworking of, and highlights friendships within, a burgeoning photography community in 1930s California. The following year both men would go on to work for the Federal Arts Project.

Other prints of this image are located in the collections of National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa; The J. Paul Getty Museum, Malibu; the Minneapolis Institute of Art; The Huntington Library, Art Museum, San Marino; and Special Collections, University of California, Riverside.

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