Girl on Beach


Wynn Bullock (American, 1902–1975)




Gelatin silver print


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Gift of Daniel Greenberg and Susan Steinhauser in honor of Brett Abbott

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Observed from above, a slight woman sits serenely on a rocky shore. Her smooth skin and perfect stillness contrast with the rough stone and swirling seawater. Nonetheless, her unclothed body seems to belong to the natural environment. Her posture and nudity contribute to a sense of honest vulnerability as she faces the rushing Pacific Ocean. Nude subjects were a key component in Wynn Bullock’s photography because they allowed him to explore the dynamic and harmonious coexistence of humans and nature. Born in California, Bullock worked in the American Modernist tradition alongside his colleagues and friends Edward Weston, Harry Callahan, and Ansel Adams. His artistic practice was guided by an intense interest in the mid-twentieth-century dialogue about the structure of the universe and humanity’s place within it. For Bullock, photography was a way of meditating on the frightening and exhilarating idea that there is much more to the world than is commonly understood through ordinary perception. Girl on the Beach brings together these complex concepts in a simple, uncontrived photograph.

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