The J. Paul Getty Museum

Nude, Charis Wilson

Object Details

Title:

Nude, Charis Wilson

Artist/Maker:

Edward Weston (American, 1886 - 1958)

Culture:

American

Date:

1936

Medium:

Gelatin silver print

Object Number:

84.XM.1381.1

Dimensions:

24.1 × 19.2 cm (9 1/2 × 7 9/16 in.)

Copyright:

© 1981 Arizona Board of Regents, Center for Creative Photography

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Object Description

In 1934 Edward Weston met Charis Wilson (1914-2009), the well-educated, twenty-year-old daughter of a prominent Carmel family. She began as a model for the photographer’s nude studies, but the two soon became romantically involved. Unlike many of the previous model­lovers in his life, Wilson remained with Weston for nearly twelve years, and they were married from 1939 until 1945. She was only his second wife, despite the numerous lovers he had had during and after his first marriage to Flora Chandler (1879-1965). Weston's pictures of Wilson in 1934 were, like his Hands of Kreutzberg (see 87.XM.61.1), close-up depictions of body parts. Set against a deep black ground, as the still lifes of peppers and shells often were, Wilson's arms and shins (see 84.XM.860.2) or buttocks and feet (see 85.XM.452.17) are tightly framed, often off center, and removed from the context of her body as a whole.

Not long after Weston met Wilson, he packed up his Carmel studio and moved to 446 Mesa Road in Santa Monica Canyon to live with his son Brett (1911-1993). The Depression years had been difficult, and Weston may have believed that his chances for making money would be better in Los Angeles County than the Carmel area, which relied heavily on the tourist trade. Wilson moved down later that summer, followed by Weston's sons Neil (1907-1977) and Cole (1919-2003). The two-bedroom home where all five lived included off the master bedroom a spacious sundeck where Weston photographed Wilson as he had Tina Modotti on their roof in Mexico (see 86.XM.710.8). This image of Wilson, where she sits elegantly posed on a wool blanket with her face turned down to avoid the bright sunlight, was made there, just inside the doorway.

Adapted from Brett Abbott. Edward Weston, In Focus: Photographs from the J. Paul Getty Museum (Los Angeles: J. Paul Getty Museum, 2005), 70. ©2005, J. Paul Getty Trust.

Exhibitions
Exhibitions
Edward Weston: The Home Spirit and Beyond (November 25, 1986 to February 1, 1987)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum (Malibu), November 25, 1986 to February 1, 1987
Photographers of Genius (March 16 to July 25, 2004)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Center (Los Angeles), March 16 to July 25, 2004
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
Bibliography
Bibliography

Abbott, Brett. Edward Weston. In Focus: Photographs from the J. Paul Getty Museum (Los Angeles: J. Paul Getty Museum, 2005), pp. 70-71, pl. 35.

Martineau, Paul, eds. Herb Ritts: L.A. Style (Los Angeles: J. Paul Getty Museum, 2012), fig. 10.

Weston, Edward. Edward Weston: Fiftieth Anniversary Portfolio, essay by James L. Enyeart (Revere, Pennsylvania: Lodima Press, 2017), pl. 5.