Charis Wilson: Edward Weston’s Often Nude Muse


Charis Wilson, who died on Friday at age 95, met legendary 20th century photographer Edward Weston when she was 19 and he 48. Their intense relationship – both personal and professional, as she acted as his wife, model, writer, companion, and chauffeur – lasted until 1945, when she left him after his health and patience deteriorated. Charis (pronounced CARE-iss) was certainly more than a static muse for Weston; her literary talents helped secure him a Guggenheim Fellowship in 1937 (the first photographer to win a grant), as well as a lasting legacy on the page in her memoir Through Another Lens. Weston/Wilson’s iconic nude portraits after the jump, plus a peek into a documentary profiling the duo through Wilson’s eyes.

“Nude,” 1936. (Edward Weston / Center for Creative Photography / ©1981 Arizona Board of Regents )

“Nude,” 1936, part of the Sand Dunes series. Gelatin silver print. (©1981 Center for Creative Photography, Arizona Board of Regents.)

“Nude Floating,” 1939.

“Charis, Lake Ediza,” 1937. (Edward Weston / Center for Creative Photography / ©1981 Arizona Board of Regents)

An excerpt from The Eloquent Nude, a documentary by Ian McCloskey profiling Charis Wilson.

Read an interview with Charis Wilson on A Photo Editor; excerpt below:

You were not satisfied with the uneven part in your hair and the bobby pins and he was not satisfied with the shadow on your arm? That’s right. Well, the shadow on my arm was really worth protesting, because if you didn’t print it very carefully it looked as if I had a withered arm. Whereas the hairdressing was simply sloppiness on my part I’m afraid.

… and he only made the one exposure of that? He did with everything 8×10; you couldn’t afford to make duplicate exposures. He never did.