Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art Opens The Photographs of Brett Weston Exhibition

The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art presents an exhibition of photographs by Brett Weston, on view November 23, 2011—March 25, 2012.

This exhibition celebrates the career of Brett Weston (1911-1993). The son of famed American photographer Edward Weston (1886-1958), Brett Weston was a “natural” with the camera. After serving as his father’s apprentice, Brett was a teenager when he first received high-level, international recognition as an artist.

Brett Weston, American, 1911-1993. Botanical, ca. 1975. Gelatin silver print. Unframed: 11 x 14 inches (27.94 x 35.56 cm). Gift from the Christian K. Keesee Collection.© The Brett Weston Archive.

Over his long and prolific career, Brett Weston exemplified the modernist aesthetic. He used the medium in a resolutely “purist” manner: his preference was always for sharp lenses and beautifully modulated black-and-white prints. He applied this technical precision to a sustained exploration of the idea of abstraction. In recording the details of everyday things—rocks, plants, trees, water, peeled paint, the human figure—Weston sought to balance fact and form, objective reality and the beauty of abstraction. Through the graphic language of form, Weston aimed to suggest the deeper possibilities, and mysteries, of familiar things.

While this exhibition includes key works from the Museum’s Hallmark Photographic Collection, it draws primarily on—and is organized to celebrate—the generous gift of Christian K. Keesee, of Oklahoma City. The owner of the Brett Weston Archive, Mr. Keesee donated a group of 260 Weston prints to the Nelson-Atkins in late 2007. This remarkable gift gives the Museum a rare holding of this artist’s work, while providing an ideal research collection for students and scholars.

In studying this single career in depth, viewers will come to a more nuanced understanding of some of the key creative currents of mid-twentieth-century photography. –

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