Weston's Headless Nudes

Discussion in 'Photographers' started by Bill Mitchell, Jan 2, 2006.

  1. Bill Mitchell

    Bill Mitchell Member

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    Before Edward Weston started routinely making nudes with the heads cut off as an integral part of his composition, was it customary (or at least unremarkable) to shoot them this way. I've seen lots of 19th century images of nudes with the heads turned so their faces weren't identifiable, but except for images of Greek Statues with their heads broken off I don't recall any headless nudes.
     
  2. avandesande

    avandesande Member

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    steiglitz?
     
  3. John Koehrer

    John Koehrer Subscriber

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    Brandt, Kertesz?
    Possibly it was to exhibit the work as an abstract form by depersonalizing it?
     
  4. Thomassauerwein

    Thomassauerwein Member

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    Headless torsos? Thats just freaky!. How to find models without heads. Now that a tough one. Maybe a special filter?
     

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  5. JamesG

    JamesG Member

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    Weston also shot nudes of his young sons and the ones I have seen were headless. Did he exhibit any of these photographs anywhere?
     
  6. df cardwell

    df cardwell Subscriber

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    He did some, but it was not routine, nor integral.

    NOTHING was integral to weston, but a good picture...
     
  7. Will S

    Will S Member

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    From reading the Daybooks I get the impression that some of the women did not want their faces in the pictures in order to maintain/prevent problems with their social standing. But there is an example of an early Weston nude in the Aperture "Nudes" (Weston) that does not have the face/head cut off, so not all of his models minded. :smile:

    That said, he certainly seems to have been looking for pure form and including the face may or may not have been a decision that was influenced by the model.

    However, Charis Weston notes in her comments that after a certain point he began to always shoot entire bodies. And I suspect that the chronology of the nudes he did of her would show that the earlier ones before they were married did not include her face as much as the later ones. Also, at that time he was no longer photographing Bertha (the dancer) so perhaps he wasn't "seeing" parts of bodies as complete compositions anymore?? Who knows? It doesn't really matter since the man was able to make fantastic photographic art no matter what he did.

    Best,

    Will
     
  8. Bill Mitchell

    Bill Mitchell Member

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    While I generally don't enjoy Weston's work as much after he dumped Sonja and shacked up with Charis, there's no question that his single most famous (and popular) nude is of Charis in the doorway, with her head down (her face not shown). There's no question but that this was done for aesthetic reason, since she didn't give a hoot about preserving her identity.
     
  9. Robert Brummitt

    Robert Brummitt Member

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    I had met with Gerald Robinson, a personal friend of Brett Weston and a photo historian. He did a lecture for my group (Portland Photographers Forum) on EW's figure work. There he said, EW included faces of women he cared for and when he was less involved or getting less involve he would start cropping the head or turning their faces away from the viewer.
    I don't know if thats the case. But, it's a thought.
     
  10. Will S

    Will S Member

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    I think she said that she was looking down to get her eyes out of the sun and he told her to hold the pose...