Brett Weston

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    Brett Weston, Pebbles and Kelp, Point Lobos, California, 1965.

    Brett Weston, Pebbles and Kelp, Point Lobos, California, 1965. Gelatin silver print, 10 3/8 x 13 ¼ inches. Gift from the Christian Keesee Collection, 2020.14.13. Brett Weston on view at San José Museum of Art July 22, 2022 through January 22, 2023.

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    Brett Weston, Joshua Tree, California, 1942. Gelatin silver print, 8 x 10 inches. Gift from the Christian Keesee Collection, 2020.14.24. Brett Weston on view at San José Museum of Art July 22, 2022 through January 22, 2023.

    Brett Weston, Joshua Tree, California, 1942. Gelatin silver print, 8 x 10 inches. Gift from the Christian Keesee Collection, 2020.14.24. Brett Weston on view at San José Museum of Art July 22, 2022 through January 22, 2023.

     

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    Brett Weston, Rock and Pebbles, Pebble Beach, California, 1976. Gelatin silver print, 11 x 14 inches. Gift from the Christian Keesee Collection, 2020.14.42. Brett Weston on view at San José Museum of Art July 22, 2022 through January 22, 2023.

    Brett Weston, Rock and Pebbles, Pebble Beach, California, 1976. Gelatin silver print, 11 x 14 inches. Gift from the Christian Keesee Collection, 2020.14.42. Brett Weston on view at San José Museum of Art July 22, 2022 through January 22, 2023.

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    Brett Weston, Tree Roots, Baja California, 1967. Gelatin silver print, 8 x 10 inches. Gift from the Christian Keesee Collection, 2020.14.30. Brett Weston on view at San José Museum of Art July 22, 2022 through January 22, 2023.

    Brett Weston, Tree Roots, Baja California, 1967. Gelatin silver print, 8 x 10 inches. Gift from the Christian Keesee Collection, 2020.14.30. Brett Weston on view at San José Museum of Art July 22, 2022 through January 22, 2023.

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    Brett Weston, Mono Lake, California, 1966. Gelatin silver print, 11 x 14 inches. Gift from the Christian Keesee Collection, 2020.14.48. Brett Weston on view at San José Museum of Art July 22, 2022 through January 22, 2023.

    Brett Weston, Mono Lake, California, 1966. Gelatin silver print, 11 x 14 inches. Gift from the Christian Keesee Collection, 2020.14.48. Brett Weston on view at San José Museum of Art July 22, 2022 through January 22, 2023.

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    Brett Weston, Worm Tracks, California, 1937 (printed later). Gelatin silver print, 8 x 10 inches. Gift from the Christian Keesee Collection, 2020.14.29. Brett Weston on view at San José Museum of Art July 22, 2022 through January 22, 2023.

    Brett Weston, Worm Tracks, California, 1937 (printed later). Gelatin silver print, 8 x 10 inches. Gift from the Christian Keesee Collection, 2020.14.29. Brett Weston on view at San José Museum of Art July 22, 2022 through January 22, 2023.

Member Preview: Friday, July 22, 11am–6pm; Public Celebration: 6–9pm

Recognized for his bold, abstract compositions of Western American landscapes and natural forms, and for his daring printing style, 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 and exploring a wide range of themes and contexts to create a unique body of work that transcends comparison to his famous father's images. Although he acknowledged his father as a huge artistic influence and admired the work of other photographers including Paul Strand, Charles Sheeler, and Henri Cartier-Bresson, Weston was also greatly inspired by artists working in painting and sculpture such as Georgia O'Keefe (whom he once proclaimed as the greatest living American painter), Constantin Brancusi, and Henry Moore. Weston initially used his father's second camera, a 3 ¼ x 4 ¼ inch Graflex, to make his first photographs in 1925. The images from this period reflect an intuitive and sophisticated approach to abstraction that would blossom later in his career when he began making pictures with an 8x10 inch camera. Brett Weston features fifty-one photographs drawn exclusively from the permanent collection of the San José Museum of Art and span approximately 40 years from the 1930s through the 1970s. The exhibition comprises images of natural landscapes and seascapes near Big Sur and Carmel, California; the Oregon Coast; and White Sands, New Mexico; as well as from three major portfolios: "Baja California," "Abstraction I," and "Abstraction II." Although he traveled extensively and photographed throughout the world, Weston's chosen subjects—twisted branches, tangled kelp, rock formations, cracked mud, and knotted roots—remained enduring motifs in his work. 

In 2020, SJMA was gifted fifty photographs by Weston from the Christian Keesee Collection, containing The Brett Weston Archive that represents the most complete body of the artist's work in the world. Many of the photographs donated to SJMA are vintage prints, produced in the same year as the image was taken, and a few were printed later by the artist. On his 80th birthday, Weston burned all but a dozen of his negatives to underscore his belief that only an artist should print their own photographs.  

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.  

Support

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. 

 

 

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Logos of the City of San José and the David Lucile and Packard Foundation