Recognized for his bold, abstract compositions of western landscapes and natural forms, Brett Weston was a leading photographer of the early twentieth century. The second son of acclaimed photographer Edward Weston, Brett Weston devoted his entire life to photography, experimenting with various printing processes to create daring, high-contrast images that transcend comparison with his famous father’s images. In addition to the work of his father and other photographers including Henri Cartier-Bresson, Charles Sheeler, and Paul Strand, Weston was also greatly inspired by artists working in painting and sculpture such as Constantin Brancusi, Georgia O’Keeffe, and Henry Moore. Throughout Weston’s extensive travels to make his work, his favored subjects—twisted branches, tangled kelp, rock formations, cracked mud, and knotted roots—remained enduring motifs.
Brett Weston comprises images of landscapes and seascapes near Big Sur and Carmel, California, where the Weston family has lived since 1929; the Oregon Coast; White Sands, New Mexico; and aquatic plants photographed on the shores of Baja California. Featuring fifty-one photographs spanning the 1930s through the 1970s, this exhibition is drawn exclusively from SJMA’s permanent collection. Fifty of these images were given to the Museum by the Christian Keesee Collection, which established The Brett Weston Archive with its extensive holdings of the artist’s works.
About the Artist
Born in 1911 in Los Angeles, Theodore Brett Weston was the second of four sons of Flora Chandler and acclaimed photographer Edward Weston. At age thirteen, Weston became his father's apprentice and traveled with him to Mexico in 1925. Living in Mexico, he was surrounded by some of the revolutionary artists of the day, including Tina Modotti, Frida Kahlo, Diego Rivera, Jean Charlot, and José Clemente Orozco, and began making photographs there with a small Graflex 3 1/4" x 4 1/4" camera given to him by his father. For most of his life, Weston resided primarily in Carmel, California, where the family had moved to in 1929, and worked in Los Angeles, New York, South America, Europe, Japan, Alaska, and Hawaii. His photographs have been the subject of numerous exhibitions, publications, and films, and are held in the collections of The Art Institute of Chicago; Carnegie Museum of Art, Pittsburgh; Center for Creative Photography, Tucson, Arizona; High Museum of Art, Atlanta; Honolulu Museum of Art; International Center for Photography, New York; J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles; Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; The Museum of Modern Art, New York; National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC; Philadelphia Museum of Art; Santa Barbara Museum of Art; San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; Smithsonian American Art Museum, Washington, DC; and Whitney Museum of American Art, New York. Weston died in 1993 in Kona, Hawaii.
Brett Weston is supported by the SJMA Exhibitions Fund.
Operations and programs at the San José Museum of Art are made possible by generous support from the Museum's Board of Trustees, a Cultural Affairs Grant from the City of San José, the Lipman Family Foundation, the Richard A. Karp Charitable Foundation, Yvonne and Mike Nevens, The David and Lucile Packard Foundation, The Yellow Chair Foundation, the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, the SJMA Director's Council and Council of 100, the San José Museum of Art Endowment Fund established by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation at the Silicon Valley Community Foundation, and The William Randolph Hearst Foundation.
Art Diary: Brett Weston, Apollo Magazine
July 20, 2022
‘Brett Weston’ Review: Images of Mystery, Wall Street Journal
September 7, 2022