Brett Weston collection
Scope and Contents
The Brett Weston collection, 1911, 1927-1993, includes personal papers, correspondence, activity and exhibition files, portfolios by Weston and others, and photographic materials, as well as photographic equipment. The majority of the papers in the collection offer significant information about the exhibition and publication of Weston’s photographs.
Series 1: Correspondence, 1911, 1930-1991 is separated into two subseries: General Correspondence and Correspondence with Edward Weston. General Correspondence includes incoming letters, telegrams, and postcards written to Brett Weston by family, friends, publishers, clients, museums and galleries, and fellow artists. Subjects covered include the exhibition, publication and sale of photographs and portfolios of Brett Weston and Edward Weston, business contracts, and Brett Weston’s personal relationships. Correspondence with Edward Weston includes letters from the artist’s father over 3 decades. Index to Select Correspondence is included. 1 box.
Series 2: Biographical Materials, 1927-1974 contains papers and documents related to the life of Brett Weston and his family members. This includes legal documents, materials pertaining to Brett Weston’s receipt of the National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship in 1972 to photograph in Alaska, writings about Brett Weston, a cassette tape documenting a conversation between Weston and his friends, Weston’s self-portrait, and of a self-compiled list of his girlfriends. 6 folders.
Series 3: Activity Files, n.d. 1972-1992 contains materials related to Weston’s portfolios, books, workshops he taught or participated in, and films about him. 5 folders.
Series 4: Exhibition Files, n.d., 1930, 1941, 1947, 1959-1988, 1993 contains materials related to the exhibition of Brett Weston’s work including exhibition announcements, catalogs, lists, awards, correspondence, newspaper clippings, and photographs. 2 boxes.
Series 5: Publications, 1934-1992 contains publications and printed material related to the life and work of Brett Weston, such as periodicals, newspaper clippings, promotional materials, and Weston’s book Hawaii, 1992. 2 boxes.
Series 6: Photographic Materials, n.d., 1927-1992 in separated into five subseries: Photographs by Brett Weston, Portraits of Brett Weston, Photographs by Others, Negatives, and Photographic Equipment. Of the negatives in this collection are: original 11x14 and 8x10-inch negative sleeves, 11x14-inch negatives, the corners that were cut off Weston's negatives, and 50 8x10-inch negatives. Included with the negatives are ashes collected in 1991 by Dianne Nilsen, after Brett Weston had burned some of his negatives, and negatives found in Hawaii darkroom after Weston’s death. See Appendix: List of Negative Information. 30 boxes.
- 1911, 1927-1993
Language of Materials
Material in English
Conditions Governing Access
To access materials from this collection, please contact CCP-RefDesk@email.arizona.edu
Conditions Governing Use
It is the responsibility of the user to obtain permission from the copyright owner (which could be the institution, the creator of the record, the author or his/her transferees, heirs, legates or literary executors) prior to any copyright-protected uses of the collection.
The user agrees to indemnify, defend, and hold harmless the Arizona Board of Regents, the University of Arizona, Center of Creative Photography, including its officers, employees, and agents, from and against all claims made relating to copyright or other intellectual property infringement
Theodore Brett Weston (1911-1993) was an American photographer and part of the West Coast photographic movement. Brett Weston began taking photographs in 1925 at age 13 while living in Mexico with his father, Edward Weston, and Tina Modotti. He began showing his work in 1927 alongside his father, and was featured at the international exhibition at Film und Foto in Germany at age 17.
He preferred high gloss, black-and-white silver gelatin photography, and is credited by Beaumont Newhall as the first photographer to make negative space the subject of a photograph. Brett Weston was ranked as one of the top ten photographers collected by American museums by the final decade of his life. His photographs are included the collections of numerous museums, including the SFMoMA, Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, the Honolulu Museum of Art, LACMA, and the Center for Creative Photography.
Although he acknowledged the artistic influence his father had on his work, and spoke of his admiration for other photographers including Paul Strand, Charles Sheeler, and Henri Cartier-Bresson, Weston believed non-photographic artists impacted his work more. He proclaimed Georgia O’Keeffe to be the greatest American painter and admired Die Blaue Vier (the Blue Four), a group of Russian and German Expressionists known for the vibrant color and emotion in their paintings. He was also moved by Constantin Brancusi and Henry Moore’s sculptures, and Weston carved wood from an early age. He was also deeply influenced by music and dance.
Returning to California in 1926, Brett continued to assist his father in his Glendale portrait studio while exhibiting and selling his own photographs. In 1929, Brett and Edward moved to Carmel, California, where the Weston family, including Brett’s three brothers, would maintain homes for the rest of their lives. At various times, Brett Weston also lived in Los Angeles, where he had his own studio and portrait business, and in New York, where he was stationed in the army. He later traveled extensively on personal photographic trips to South America, Europe, Japan, Alaska, and Hawaii.
Beginning in 1938, Weston produced a series of portfolios, grouping together sets of his photographs for sale and distribution. Over the course of his career, he would create a total of fourteen portfolios, ranging from between ten and twenty prints apiece. Following a 1947 Guggenheim fellowship, during which he photographed along the East Coast, he returned to Carmel to assist his ailing father and pursue his fine art work, including wood sculpture that related to his own photographs.
Between 1950 and 1980, Brett Weston’s style changed sharply and was characterized by bold, abstract imagery. The subjects he chose were, for the most part, not unlike the nature studies that interested him early in his career: plant leaves, knotted roots, and tangled kelp. He concentrated mostly on close-ups and abstracted details, but his prints reflected a preference for strong contrast that reduced his subjects to pure graphic form. In the late 1970s and 1980s, Weston spent much of his time on the Big Island in Hawaii. Brett Weston died in Kona, Hawaii, in 1993.
19.09 Linear Feet (11.75 cubic feet, 35 boxes)
Metadata Rights Declarations
- License: This record is made available under an Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International Creative Commons license.
Materials documenting the life and career of the photographer Brett Weston (1911-1993), son of Edward Weston, including personal papers, letters, activity files, exhibition files, publications, photographic materials, and photographic equipment. The papers offer significant information on the exhibition, publication and sale of Weston’s photographs.
The Collection is arranged into the following series:
- Series 1: Correspondence
- Subseries 1: General Correspondence
- Subseries 2: Correspondence with Edward Weston
- Series 2: Biographic Material
- Series 3: Activity Files
- Series 4: Exhibition Files
- Series 5: Publications
- Series 6: Photographic Materials
- Subseries 1: Photographs by Brett Weston
- Subseries 2: Portraits of Brett Weston
- Subseries 3: Photographs by Others
- Subseries 4: Negatives
- Subseries 5: Photographic Equipment
The negatives were a gift of the photographer in 1991. A subsequent donation was made by the photographer’s daughter, Erica Weston, in 1994. Additional letters and photographic materials and equipment were donated by the Brett Weston Estate in 2018.
First portion of accrual received on 04/26/2018
Additional materials received on 05/01/2018
Accruals have been processed into the collection
Accrual processed by Marina Oleshko in 2019 and Sarah Jardini in 2020. Finding aid updated by Sarah Jardini in 2020.
- Group f.64 (Organization)
- Brett Weston Collection, 1911, 1927-1993
- Finding aid created by CCP Archives Staff
- © 2020
- Description rules
- Finding Aid Based On Dacs (Describing Archives: A Content Standard)
- Language of description
- Script of description
- Language of description note
- Finding aid encoded in English
Part of the Center for Creative Photography Archives Repository
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