Towards Abstraction, 1940-1985: Brett Weston photographs at the Bruce

Brett Weston (1911-1993) Untitled (Rock Wall), 1975. Gelatin silver print, 8 x 10 in. Gift from the Christian Keesee Collection, 2015, Bruce Museum Collection.

Brett Weston (1911-1993) Untitled (Rock Wall), 1975. Gelatin silver print, 8 x 10 in. Gift from the Christian Keesee Collection, 2015, Bruce Museum Collection.

The exhibition Towards Abstraction, 1940-1985: Brett Weston Photographs from the Bruce Museum Collection runs from Nov. 5-Feb. 1, at the Bruce Museum, 1 Museum Drive, Greenwich.

Throughout his nearly 70-year career, photographer Brett Weston (1911-1993) was obsessed with abstracted micro-images of reality as well as of cities and landscapes captured by a long telephoto lens that diminished the depth of field, thus flattening the image.

The Bruce Museum will presents an exhibition of 23 vintage 11 x 14 and 8 x 10-inch, black-and-white photographs by Brett Weston that were part of a 2015 gift to the Museum from the Christian Keesee Collection. Keesee, who is a collector and philanthropist, acquired the vintage prints from the Brett Weston Estate in 1996, then created an archive to organize and catalog the works as well as increase public awareness of the artist.

The exhibition titled Towards Abstraction, 1940-1985: Brett Weston Photographs from the Bruce Museum Collection features images of architectural designs from major cities and natural elements from the desert to lush tropical landscapes.

3_weston-tree“Whatever the subject, the images are crisp, flattened, black and white, and brilliantly composed, but not staged,” notes Susan Ball, Bruce Museum Deputy Director and curator of the exhibition.

Weston used medium and large-format cameras and usually contact printed directly from the negative, selecting his subjects carefully rather than relying on manipulation in the dark room. He rarely cropped images and only occasionally used an enlarger, but not until the 1960s when the technology became sophisticated enough to meet his exacting standards. His subjects became increasingly less recognizable as time progressed.

“He often combined groups of photographs in portfolios, and although only a few portfolios were actually labeled ‘Abstractions,’” Ball explains, “they all share Brett Weston’s signature abstract and flattened style.”

Brett Weston gained international recognition at the age of seventeen, when he was included, with his father, Edward Weston, in an avant-garde exhibition at Film und Foto in Stuttgart, Germany, in 1929. Three years later, he had his first one-person museum retrospective in San Francisco and frequently exhibited in the 1930s with the California group of photographers known as Group f.64, named for the aperture setting.

The exhibition Towards Abstraction, 1940-1985: Brett Weston Photographs from the Bruce Museum Collection is supported by the Deborah G. and Charles M. Royce Exhibition Fund and the Connecticut Office of the Arts.

The Bruce Museum is located at 1 Museum Drive, Greenwich. For information, call 203-869-0376 or visit brucemuseum.org.

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