Two Shells

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Object Details


Two Shells


Edward Weston (American, 1886 - 1958)




negative 1927; print about 1933


Gelatin silver print


24.1 x 18.4 cm (9 1/2 x 7 1/4 in.)


© 1981 Arizona Board of Regents, Center for Creative Photography

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"It is this very combination of the physical and spiritual in a shell...which makes it such an important abstract of life," wrote Edward Weston of his still life compositions of seashells. Bored with portraiture, Weston began to experiment with the symbolic and formal potential of objects he found. By nesting one chambered nautilus shell inside another, he created a powerful sinuous form not seen in nature. The polished surface of the shells reflects the light, interrupting the sensual curve with piercing highlights. The shells stand in bold relief against the stark black background.


Edward Weston, American, 1886 - 1958

Persistent Themes: Notable Photography Acquisitions, 1985 - 1990 (June 5 to September 2, 1990)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum (Malibu), June 5 to September 2, 1990
Arrows of Time: Photographs from the J. Paul Getty Museum (January 24 to April 2, 1995)
  • Armand Hammer Museum of Art and Cultural Center at UCLA (Los Angeles), January 24 to April 2, 1995
Edward Weston: Enduring Vision (July 31 to November 25, 2007)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Center (Los Angeles), July 31 to November 25, 2007

Maddow, Ben. Edward Weston, His Life and Photographs: The Definitive Volume of His Photographic Work, revised edition. (Millerton, N.Y.: Aperture, 1979), p. 149.

The J. Paul Getty Museum Handbook of the Collections. 7th ed. (Los Angeles: J. Paul Getty Museum, 2007), p. 312, ill.