In 1925, long before photography was accepted
as a legitimate artistic medium, Brett Weston embarked upon
a remarkable career that would span nearly seven decades. The thirteen year-old Brett began his legendary Modernist abstraction in Mexico under the proud eye of his father, the great
photographer Edward Weston (who privately would often generously credit Brett
with influencing his own work after that year). As some musicians
are said to be born with an ear independent of their experience
and training, Brett had been gifted with an eye. In 1927, the two began jointly showing their photographs and became artistic colleagues,
with Brett not only at the wheel during camera trips (Edward never
learned to drive) but also encouraging Edward to shed the older
platinum papers in favor of richer tones available in silver halide
and doing much of their joint studio darkroom work. By age 17, Brett Westons work was exhibited internationally
in the "Film und Foto" (1929) a critical avant-garde venue between the two World Wars and had his first one-man museum show at age 21 at the de Young in San Francisco, a month after his inclusion in Group f64 exhibition - and the world had a glimpse of what was to come. The curator of
the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, Van Deren Coke would later
observe, "Brett Weston was the child genius of American photography." Reaching the end of his life, Weston would look back and muse, "my father was my biggest fan."
Brett Westons work ultimately became one of the defining
poles of contemporary photography with its technical precision,
bold design and extremes of abstraction and private imagination.
The excitement and tension in his prints were Bretts unique
response to pure form: the vocabulary of line, volume, pattern
and light and dark. It was this sensual response to form that
defines his more classical European landscapes, taken in the 1960s
and 1970s. A world away from the endless California horizons
and soaring cliffs, these scenes from abroad feature beautifully
modulated light and confined landscapes born from Westons
expert technical command of the West Coast tradition of photography.
In Westons concluding photographs taken during the 1980s,
the abstract was resurrected but this time the playful and less
orderly images of writhing reflections in skyscraper windows and
the electrifying patterns of light on underwater figures captured
his imagination. A final series of plant forms in Hawaii revealed
a more mature language; as a sense of mortality and introspection
entered the frame. It was as if Weston had begun to contemplate
the limits of the ego, or of reason, still affirming the self,
but with more awareness of death and chaos. But true to only himself,
these images are often punctuated with elements of humor, and
more irrational elements of design.
Brett Westons lifetime of devotion and total involvement
with the medium produced a body of work and contribution to photography
that many viewers feel ultimately surpassed his renowned father in sophisticated visual scope. Brett worked quietly more than three decades after Edward Weston's death to "take the work as far as I can" and brilliantly conclude the remarkable 90-year Weston Legacy (1903-1993). Brett Weston's intuitive visual genius has virtually no equal in
the history of contemporary photography.