Images ranging from landscapes to botanical studies are among the 50 photographs by celebrated American photographer Brett Weston (1911–¬1993). These were gifted to The Block Museum of Art by New York-based philanthropist Christian Keesee, who in 1996 acquired the most complete collection of Weston’s work directly from the photographer’s estate.
Mr. Keesee, who serves as the president of the Oklahoma Contemporary Arts Center, has given a portion of the collection to several museums over the past decade. “We are honored by this important gift of art from the Christian Keesee Collection, which recognizes The Block’s increasing prominence as a university art museum committed to teaching with its collections across fields of study,” said Lisa Corrin, The Museum Director. “It highlights the value of the collection as a significant resource for faculty, students and the Chicago-area community.”
Born in Los Angeles, Mr. Weston was the second of photographer Edward Weston’s (1886–1958) four sons. Though he learned photography from his father and shared a similar reverence for the natural world, Brett Weston developed his own singular vision. Coincident with the rise of Abstract Expressionism in the 1940s, he explored the creative possibilities of abstraction through photography. He also experimented with new silver papers that favored sharp focus and high contrast — materials that he later introduced to his father.
“At The Block, this group of photographs by Brett Weston will be part of a collection that includes seminal works of 20th-century American photography such as Edward Steichen, W. Eugene Smith, Alan Cohen and the Farm Security Administration and the Office of War Information. They also will be seen alongside a growing collection of images by photographers working around the globe,” said Kathleen Bickford Berzock, Associate Director of Curatorial Affairs.
Ms. Corrin also said, “Collectors like Mr. Keesee know that giving works of art to The Block ensures that these treasures will be studied and appreciated, particularly by new generations of students, for many years to come.”