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Oakland Artists

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Boats and Spars

ca. 1932
20th Century
9 3/8 in. x 7 3/8 in. (23.81 cm x 18.73 cm)

John Paul Edwards, American, (1884–1968)

Object Type: Photography and Video
Creation Place: North America, United States, California
Medium and Support: Gelatin silver print
Credit Line: Museum Purchase, Susan L. Mills Fund
Accession Number: 1941.18
In Boats and Spars, John Paul Edwards creates a stunning display of contrasting formal elements. Two boats are presented side by side, towering above the viewer and framing the photograph with their bulk. The three white spars cut across the photograph, contrasting sharply with the curvilinear lines of the boats. Between the boats, spars, and cables, Edwards both creates depth within the photograph and produces an intricate maze of geometric shapes. Another example of contrast can be seen between the black and white components of the photograph. The overpowering presence of the boats, emphasized by cropping, is brought into sharp relief by the stark white background of the sky. The shadows within the white spars soften the contrast between the boats and the sky, while the added dimension from the cables further tie the opposing colors together. The entire photograph is a study of juxtaposition. The combination of monochromatic photography, cropping, and geometric shapes bring the industrial nature of the subject matter into focus. All of these elements are key ideals of Group f/64: Edwards presents the boats in a straightforward manner, using only the techniques that the camera offered him.

--Akari Goda-Maurezzutt, December 2015

Exhibition List
This object was included in the following exhibitions:

  • Sheet Dimensions: 9 3/8 in. x 7 3/8 in. (23.81 cm x 18.73 cm)
  • Mat Dimensions: 20 in. x 16 in. (50.8 cm x 40.64 cm)

Bibliography List
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