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Two Shells
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© 1981 Arizona Board of Regents, Center for Creative Photography

Edward Weston
American, May 1927
Gelatin silver print
9 1/2 x 7 1/4 in.
88.XM.56

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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.