Edward Weston


"Nahui Olin," 1923

Gelatin silver print on paper mounted to a board mount
Signed and dated in pencil on the mount, at right: Edward Weston; dated again and titled on an exhibition label affixed to the frame's backing board
Image/Sheet: 9.125" H x 6.875" W; Mount: 15" H x 13.125" W

  • Provenance: The Artist
    Brett Weston, acquired from the above
    Harvey Himelfarb and Alice Swan, acquired from the above

    Exhibitions: San Francisco, CA, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, "Edward Weston in Mexico: 1923-1926," May 6 - July 3, 1983, and circulation, registration number: 11.83.16
  • Literature: Conger 107/1923
    Edward Weston, "The Daybooks of Edward Weston, Vol. 1 Mexico," ed. Nancy Newhall (Millerton, NY: Aperture, 1973), plate 9.
    Ben Maddow, "Edward Weston: Fifty Years" (New York: Aperture, Inc., 1973), 102.
    Amy Conger, "Edward Weston in Mexico, 1923-1926" (University of New Mexico Press, 1983), 30, fig. 17.
    Amy Conger, "Edward Weston: Photograph from the Collection of the Center for Creative Photography" (The University of Arizona, Tucson, 1992), fig. 107.
    Gilles Mora, ed. "Edward Weston: Forms of Passion" (New York: H.N. Abrams, 1995), 79.
    "Edward Weston: Life Work," Exhibition Catalogue (Revere: Lodima Press, 2003), 237, fig. 11.
    Steve Crist, "Edward Weston: One Hundred Twenty-five Photographs" (Los Angeles: Ammo Books, 2012), plate 50.
    Manfred Heiting, "Edward Weston" (Cologne: Taschen, 2017), 12.
  • Notes: Dr. Amy Conger noted in her research that this example is the first print from the negative. This was later confirmed by Brett Weston, on 2/22/1980. - from Dr. Amy Conger's Dissertation, "Edward Weston's Early Photography, 1903 - 1926," 1982, submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy in Art History, University of New Mexico, Albuquerque, NM, File 1923M, Log.

    We are grateful to Susan Ehrens for her assistance in cataloguing this work and providing the lot notes.

    Carmen Mondragón, a Mexican poet known for her transformation into Nahui Olin, is immortalized in a captivating portrait captured by the renowned photographer Edward Weston as part of his "Heroic Heads" series, a collection of photographs featuring intellectual friends from the artistic and cultural circles in which Weston and his companion, Tina Modotti, moved during their time in Mexico. It stands as a testament to the enduring legacy of this multifaceted artist and the vibrant intellectual scene of the 1920s in Mexico. This striking image was considered one of Weston's most successful works from his Mexican period.

    Amy Conger reflects [that], "This picture was the most direct and timeless portrait Weston had yet made. The physical and psychological distance between photographer and subject has been reduced by a minimum. The two participants in this performance are mutually violating each other's space: a visual challenge with neither backing down. Proportionally, she occupies more of the picture space than any person he had photographed. He shows her cracked lips, the pores in her skin, and her randomly and roughly cropped hair. The overall impression of destitution is softened by the gentle curve of light on her collarbone and the lighter outline on the shaded side of her nose and cheek... It is, without question, one of the most revealing portraits of Weston's entire career."
    The subject of this mesmerizing portrait, Carmen Mondragón, chose to adopt the name Nahui Olin, signifying the "four movements of the sun," upon her return to Mexico from her upbringing in Paris. She sat for Edward Weston in November 1923, and the resulting portrait graced an exhibition at the Aztec Land Gallery in Mexico City the following year. Olin was not only a muse for Weston but also posed for notable artists like Diego Rivera and Jean Charlot. As a poet, painter, and artist's model, she left colorful imprints of herself entwined with her lovers in her artwork. Known for her captivating large green eyes and her fiery spirit, she was a subject of speculation in the social columns of her time.
    In a Mexico that gradually embraced conservative ideals in the 1940s, Nahui Olin withdrew from public life. However, her passion for art endured as she continued to impart her knowledge to children in Mexico City schools for decades until her passing in 1978.
  • Condition: Overall good condition.

    Framed under Plexiglass: 17" H x 14.25" W x 1" D

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