Brett Weston (originally Theodore Brett Weston; December 16, 1911, Los AngelesĖJanuary 22, 1993, Hawaii) was an American photographer. Van Deren Coke described Brett Weston as the "child genius of American photography." He was the second of the four sons of photographer Edward Weston and Flora Chandler.
Weston began taking photographs in 1925, while living in Mexico with Tina Modotti and his father. He began showing his photographs with Edward Weston in 1927, was featured at the international exhibition at Film und Foto in Germany at age 17, and mounted his first one-man museum retrospective at age 21 at the De Young Museum in San Francisco in January, 1932.
Weston's earliest images from the 1920s reflect his intuitive sophisticated sense of abstraction. He often flattened the plane, engaging in layered space, an artistic style more commonly seen among the Abstract Expressionists and more modern painters like David Hockney than other photographers. He began photographing the dunes at Oceano, California, in the early 1930s. This was a favorite location of his father Edward and a location that they later shared Brett's with wife Dody Weston Thompson. Brett preferred the high gloss papers and ensuing sharp clarity of the gelatin silver photographic materials of the f64 Group rather than the platinum matte photographic papers common in the 1920s and encouraged Edward Weston to explore the new silver papers in his own work. Brett Weston was credited by photography historian Beaumont Newhall as the first photographer to make negative space the subject of a photograph. Donald Ross, a photographer close to both Westons, said that Brett never came after anyone. He was a true photographic equal and colleague to his father and "one should not be considered without the other."
"Brett and I are always seeing the same kinds of things to do - we have the same kind of vision. Brett didn't like this; naturally enough, he felt that even when he had done the thing first, the public would not know and he would be blamed for imitating me."
Edward Weston - Daybooks - May 24, 1930.
Brett Weston used to refer to Edward Weston lovingly as "my biggest fan" and there was no rivalry between the two photographic giants. Brett and his wife Dody loyally set aside their own photography to help Edward after he was unable to print his own images due to Parkinson's disease, which claimed Edward's life in 1958.
Brett Weston married and divorced four times. He had one daughter, Erica Weston. Brett Weston lived part time on the Big Island of Hawaii and in Carmel, California for the final 14 years of his life. He maintained a home in Waikoloa that was built by his brother Neil Weston, and later moved to Hawaii Paradise Park. He died in Kona Hospital on January 22, 1993 after suffering a massive stroke.
Works by Brett Weston are included in collections of the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center, the Honolulu Museum of Art, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, the Oklahoma City Museum of Art and the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. In November of 1996, Oklahoma City collector Christian Keesee acquired from the Brett Weston Estate the most complete body of Westonís work.