THE ESTATE OF A COLLECTOR
'Amongst old negatives, I printed yesterday, - one nude of Tina prone
on the Azotea. After five years - is it possible! - I have decided this one to be better than the ones finished from the same series.' (Edward Weston, The Daybooks, 1929)
Edward Weston met Tina Modotti, an Italian film actress in 1919 in California. He photographed her a number of times from 1921 and with increasing frequency during their time together in Mexico City in 1923-1924.
Weston was apparently making cloud studies when he noticed Tina sunbathing on the roof (the 'azotea') below. The resulting series of photographs are indicative both of Weston's newly-found mastery of formal arrangement as well as his highly charged, erotic connection with the sitter.
Lot 288, in which Tina is flattened and and delineated by knife-edge shadows, is the direct precursor of Weston's 1936 studies of Charis Wilson on sand dunes.
According to Amy Conger (Edward Weston: Photographs), cropping of the print varies considerably and the dating is also questionable; the others from the series specified by Weston are dated 1924, but all show Tina lying on a blanket and with longer hair. There are no dated images of her after 1924, although this image would be easier to understand stylistically - in Weston's use of truncated forms, in its starkness and simplicity - if the photographs had actually been taken later, in 1925 or 1926.
Early prints of this image are extremely rare; examples can be found in the collections of The Center for Creative Photography, Tucson, The J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles, The Art Institute of Chicago and The University of California, Santa Cruz.
Conger, Edward Weston: Photographs from the Collection of the Center for Creative Photography, 1992, fig. 111/1923; Edward Weston: Nudes, Aperture, 1977, pl. 30