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© Frederick and Frances Sommer Foundation

Frederick Sommer
American, USA, 1945
Gelatin silver print
7 1/2 x 9 1/2 in.

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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.