SJMA presents a new exhibition by photographer Brett Weston taken from the permanent collection…
Known for his bold, abstract compositions of Western American landscapes and natural forms, and for his bold print style, Brett Weston was one of the leading photographers of the early 20th century. From July 22, 2022 to January 22, 2023, the San José Museum of Art (SJMA) will present Brett Westonwith fifty photographs taken exclusively from the permanent collection of the San José Museum of Art.
The growth of the SJMA’s permanent photography collection has primarily benefited from the acquisition of in-depth works or unique portfolios by individual photographers. The acquisition of this collection represents the largest set of photographs by an artist to enter the Museum’s collection. In addition, the Museum is used to presenting innovative exhibitions by photographic artists such as This is Not a Selfie: Photographic Self-Portraits from the Audrey and Sydney Irmas Collection, David Levinthal: MAKE BELIEVEand Annie Leibovitz: Pilgrimageamong others.
Spanning approximately 40 years, from the 1930s to the 1970s, Brett Weston’s new exhibit will feature images of natural landscapes and seascapes near Big Sur and Carmel, California; the Oregon Coast; and White Sands, New Mexico; as well as three large portfolios: “Baja California”, “Abstraction I” and “Abstraction II”.
“Although Weston has traveled extensively around the world, he has spent much of his life in California. So it’s only fitting that we exhibit Weston’s work at SJMA,” said Rory Padeken, curator of the San José Museum of Art. “Throughout his career, Weston transformed close-ups of familiar subjects into the beautiful and mysterious abstractions that have become his signature. He had an acute ability to extract detail from the larger context and these carefully chosen subjects – twisted branches, tangled kelp, rock formations, cracked mud and knotted roots – have remained enduring motifs in his work.
“This group of photographs provides an overview of Weston’s practice over his nearly seventy-year career. This is an important addition to the Museum’s growing collection of photographs, and we were honored to have them offered to us by the Christian Keesee Collection. We are thrilled to be able to share them with our visitors,” said S. Sayre Batton, Executive Director of Oshman, San José Museum of Art.
The second son of famed photographer Edward Weston, Brett Weston has devoted his entire life to photography, experimenting with various printing processes and exploring a wide range of themes and contexts to create unique work that transcends comparison to the images of his famous dad. Although he recognized 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’Keeffe (whom he once proclaimed as the greatest living American painter), Constantin Brâncuși and Henry Moore.
Weston made his first photographs in 1925 with his father’s second camera, a 3 ¼ x 4 ¼ inch Graflex. From the start, Weston saw beauty in detail, and images from this period reflect an intuitive and sophisticated approach to abstraction that would blossom later in his career when he began taking photographs with an 8 x 10 inches.
Weston’s photographs were donated to SJMA in 2020 from the Christian Keesee Collection, which contains Brett Weston’s archive and represents the most comprehensive body of the artist’s work in the world. Most of the photographs donated to SJMA are vintage prints, produced the same year as the shot, and a few were later printed by the artist.
ABOUT THE ARTIST
Born in 1911 in Los Angeles, Theodore Brett Weston was the second of four sons of Flora Chandler and famed photographer Edward Weston. At 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 time, including Tina Modotti, Frida Kahlo, Diego Rivera, Jean Charlot and Jose. Clemente Orozco, and began photographing there with a small 3 ¼ x 4 ¼ inch Graflex camera given to him by his father. For most of his life, Weston resided primarily in Carmel, California, where the family had moved in 1929, and worked in Los Angeles, New York, South America, Europe, Japan, Alaska and in 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 of 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, D.C.; Philadelphia Museum of Art; Santa Barbara Museum of Art; San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; Smithsonian Museum of American Art, Washington, DC; and Whitney Museum of American Art, New York. Weston died in 1993 in Kona, Hawaii.
Brett Weston Opening Celebration
Friday, July 22, 2022
Member Preview: 11:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. Community Opening Celebration: 6:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m.
Celebrate the opening of Brett Weston. The galleries are open late with music from a local DJ. Members receive a commemorative button and other special benefits.
Free admission for members all day and for the public from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m.
Art 101: Striking Contrast Photography [onsite + online]
Friday August 26, 4-6 p.m.
Take incredible photos inspired by master photographer Brett Weston. Artist and instructor Emilio Banuelos shows you how to maximize your phone’s camera. Participants will need a smartphone with an integrated camera. Email [email protected] to reserve a tablet. Pre-registration required.
$15 ($10 for members). For more information and to register, visit sjmusart.org.
Brett Weston is supported by the SJMA Exhibitions Fund.
The operations and programs of the San José Museum of Art are made possible through the generous support of the Museum’s Board of Trustees, a Cultural Affairs Grant from the City of San José, the Lipman Family Foundation, the Andrew W. Mellon 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 of the Silicon Valley Community Foundation and the William Randolph Hearst Foundation.
SAN JOSE ART MUSEUM
The San José Museum of Art (SJMA) is a museum of modern and contemporary art dedicated to inclusivity, new thinking, and visionary ideas. Founded in 1969 by artists and community leaders, its dynamic exhibitions, collection and programs resonate with the defining characteristics of San Jose and Silicon Valley, from its rich diversity to its innovative ethos. The Museum provides lifelong learning for school children and their educators, multi-generational families, creative adults, university students and professors, and community groups. SJMA is committed to being a museum without borders, essential to creative life in the diverse communities of San José and beyond.
SJMA is located at 110 South Market Street in downtown San Jose, California. The Museum is open from Friday to Sunday, from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. and until 9 p.m. on the first Friday of each month. Beginning July 1, SJMA hours of operation will extend to Thursdays, 4-9 p.m.; Friday 11am–9pm; Saturday to Sunday, 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. For up-to-date information on SJMA, visit SanJoseMuseumofArt.org. Admission is $10 for adults, $8 for seniors, and free for members, students, youth and children 17 and under, and teachers (with valid ID). Admission is free from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. on the first Friday of each month. For more information, call 408.271.6840 or visit SanJoseMuseumofArt.org.
Visitors 2 years and older must wear a mask. The SJMA will carefully and continuously monitor the effectiveness of these guidelines in real time and make further adjustments as necessary.