Object Details




Frederick Sommer (American, born Italy, 1905 - 1999)






Gelatin silver print


19.1 × 24.1 cm (7 1/2 × 9 1/2 in.)


© Frederick and Frances Sommer Foundation

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The bodies of four dead coyotes dry and bleach in the Arizona sun. Tufts of fur poke out beneath the remains of tails, and ribs clearly show through stretched and drying sinew. In this scene, Frederick Sommer's composition celebrates life by contrasting it with its final process--death. The bones and fur stand out as lighter shades against the darkness of the soil beneath, brightening the otherwise dull terrain. Sommer's dynamic composition and framing brings the photograph to life. The coyote on the left side appears to be leaping out of the picture, while another one enters the image from below. In the center, one coyote lies in a suckling position under another. The legs of all the coyotes seem to be captured in mid-motion, adding a sense of action to the image.

Sommer used a large-format camera to capture this degree of detail. This photograph was part of a series of images of dead-animal parts that Sommer took between 1938 and 1948.

1994 -

Frederick Sommer Prescott, AZ, USA, American, born Italy, 1905 - 1999

Frederick Sommer: Poetry and Logic (December 6, 1994 to February 12, 1995)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum (Malibu), December 6, 1994 to February 12, 1995
The Photographs of Frederick Sommer: A Centennial Tribute (May 10 to September 4, 2005)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Center (Los Angeles), May 10 to September 4, 2005

Aperture, vol. 9, no. 3.

Sommer, Frederick. Venus, Jupiter & Mars: The Photographs of Frederick Sommer, edited by John Weiss, exh. cat.; cosponsored by the Department of Art, University of Delaware and the Delaware Art Museum (Wilmington, Del.: Delaware Art Museum, 1980), fig. 22 and pl. 17.

Sommer, Frederick. Sommer: Words (v. 1)/Images (v. 2) (Tucson: Center for Creative Photography, University of Arizona, 1984), pl. 10.

Naef, Weston. Frederick Sommer: Poetry and Logic, exh. brochure (Los Angeles: JPGM, 1994), figure 2.