Bridgeman Images are proud to represent the archive of Brett Weston (1911 - 1993).
To quote his biography, Brett Weston seemed destined from birth to become one of the greatest American photographic artists. Born in Los Angeles in 1911, Brett was the second son of one of America's most famous photographers, Edward Weston. From the age of 13 when his father took Brett out of school and moved to Mexico, Brett was surrounded by artistic royalty - Frida Kahlo, Diego Rivera, Tina Modotti - where his love of photography started to flourish.
For the next seven decades, Brett would travel extensively and his style change significantly but throughout his career he would gravitate to similar themes of cityscapes, plants, desolate regions - invariably with a concentration on close-ups and abstracted details, reflecting a preference for high contrast that reduced many of his subjects to pure form.
Since 2017 Bridgeman Images has been honored to represent the Brett Weston Archive and we sat down with their curator, Julie Maguire.
How did you get involved with the Brett Weston Archive?
I began working for the owner of the Archive, Christian Keesee, in 2008. Before that I had worked as a corporate curator and with an art advisory firm.
Do you have a favourite work?
It is hard to pick a favourite work, but the ones that stick with me are the windows and doors (not his usual subject matter). There is one from 1937 of a broken window that would be close to the top of the list.
And what was Brett's favourite?
It’s funny, I don’t know his favourite, but his least favourite was well documented: Holland Canal!
Is there anything about Brett and his photography that is rarely known to a wider audience?
It may be sort of obvious, but photography was definitely an obsession for him. He printed everyday from 4-11am. It impacted his relationships.
From a licensing standpoint, which of his series has been reproduced most often over the years?
Probably the White Sands portfolio. Holland Canal is probably the most popular single image.
Turning to the Brett Weston Archive, could you give us some background to the formation of the Archive and its mission?
The Archive as it is now was purchased from Brett’s daughter, Erica Weston, in 1996 by Christian Keesee. The main goal for the Archive is to get Brett’s work out into the public eye by donating it to museums and educational institutions.
How do you decide which works and to which institutions?
We look for collections that could benefit from a group of Brett’s work. It could be an institution with a large photography collection, but it could also be a small photography collection that our donation would really impact. Once an institution is chosen, we really try to work with the curatorial staff to choose things that work for the institution and have the most chance of being exhibited. In some cases this means choosing works from across his career so that they have a mini-retrospective or it could mean focusing on a particular location or style.
What plans does the archive have for 2021 and beyond?
The Archive plans to continue with its donation program, but also hopes to travel a couple of exhibitions over the next couple of years.
We look forward to continuing the relationship between Bridgeman Images and the Brett Weston Archive in promoting and licensing such an important individual in the history of American photography.
Discover our entire Brett Weston collection.