National Gallery of Art: Art for the Nation    
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Le Tournesol/The Sunflower Edward Steichen  

Spiral Shell by Edward Steichen
Edward Steichen, Spiral Shell, 1921, photograph, reproduced with permission of Joanna T. Steichen


In Voulangis, Steichen began a close study of nature. French sculptor Auguste Rodin (whom Steichen had befriended and photographed years before) counseled the painter-photographer to look to the natural world for both inspiration and discipline. Landscapes and flowers became the primary subjects of Steichen's paintings and photographs. He also made an intense study of the mathematical ratios of plant growth, teaching himself plane and solid geometry and reading complicated theory in his quest to discover nature's "golden mean."

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