The J. Paul Getty Museum Announces Important Gift of Brett Weston Photographs
May 24, 2001
Los Angeles--The J. Paul Getty Museum announced today a major gift of 256 photographs by acclaimed American photographer Brett Weston (1911-1993), son of photographer Edward Weston. The photographs are a gift of Christian Keesee, an art collector and chairman of American Bancorp of Oklahoma. The rare prints date from the 1930s through the 1970s, representing a major portion of Brett Weston's career. They provide the Museum with a solid foundation of Brett Weston material that complements its strong existing collection of his father's work.
Keesee, also a collector of 20th-century art, founded the Brett Weston Archive in 1997 with the acquisition of the Brett Weston Estate. Mr. Keesee is chairman of the City Arts Center, Oklahoma City, and is a trustee of the Oklahoma City Philharmonic Foundation as well as the Oklahoma City Community Foundation.
Keesee said, "This gift represents our ongoing commitment to see Brett Weston's photographs find a broader representation in the finest collections in the United States. The Getty's plans for this acquisition will bring his work to a larger audience and will provide the opportunity for scholarly study and interpretation."
Deborah Gribbon, Getty Museum director and vice president of the Getty Trust, said, "The superb quality of his gift attests to Mr. Keesee's connoisseurship and commitment to Brett Weston's work. The Museum is extremely grateful for this important donation."
While sometimes overshadowed by the work of his celebrated father, Brett Weston claimed his own place in the history of photography. The Los Angeles native began his career as an apprentice to his father in Santa Monica in the 1930s, but his own style evolved as he worked prolifically for over 60 years. He created striking urban documentary photographs of New York and San Francisco in the 1930s and 1940s, but was largely concerned with portraying the natural landscape. He is credited with leading his father toward the bold, abstract treatment of subjects such as sand dunes, boulders, and plants for which the elder Weston became famous. In a dramatic gesture on his 80th birthday, Brett Weston burned all but a dozen of his own negatives, to confirm his belief that a negative should be printed only by the person who created it.
Weston Naef, the Museum's curator of photographs, said, "These prints of extraordinary quality, when put beside our existing strong Edward Weston holding, show the son to be in every way an heir to his father's talents."
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