In November of 1996, Oklahoma City collector Christian Keesee acquired from the Brett Weston Estate the most complete body of Weston's work in existence. In addition to numerous vintage prints dating from as early as 1925, up through work produced shortly before he died in January of 1993, the Archive also contains rare, self-titled 'private collections' assembled by Brett Weston over six decades, that illustrate not only his range of subjects, but what he thought were examples of his finest prints. There also exist a number of unsigned, unmounted prints that provide a fascinating look at the exhaustive efforts Weston went to in pursuit of his art. As one of the largest and most significant collections by an individual American photographer, The Brett Weston Archive serves as a resource for museums, collectors, historians, and publishers worldwide.
One of the primary goals of the Archive is to organize and catalog the collection in such a way as to offer immediate access to recognized as well as unknown and unpublished photographs by Brett Weston. A catalogue raisonne documenting each and every print in the collection with all attributable information on the photographs is currently underway, with a database available for research via the internet.
Collector Christian Keesee has said, "Brett Weston was one of the true American masters of photography, yet what we know of him through his publications and exhibitions represents only a small part of what we are uncovering in this important collection. It is my goal to bring to light a great body of work that has never been exhibited or reproduced and to make the public aware of the many sides of this gifted artist."
The collection, moved from Monterey, California to Oklahoma City, is housed in a specially equipped facility that allows works to be cataloged and digitized via computer, as well as, exhibited and studied in a safe, secure environment. Photographic curator, Jon Burris, also of Oklahoma City, was a previous Director of the Archive: "Brett Weston was unquestionably a recognized and respected figure in American photography although he was often compared to his famous father, Edward Weston. However, what we found in this valuable Archive was a treasure trove of images representing Brett's singular vision."
Towards this goal, the Archive is organizing a series of exhibitions and several new publications that focus on specific areas in which Weston worked during different periods in his career. Among those in the planning stages are books on Mexico and the Desert Southwest, New York, and Europe. Through the use of many newly discovered photographs, other publications will concentrate on Weston's abstract imagery, his underwater nudes and rare portraits. The Archive is also working towards publishing the Brett Weston biography, A Restless Eye, by John Charles Woods. Excerpts of this biography are available on the website.
The Brett Weston Archive website updates information regarding Exhibitions and Bibliography and will rotate works in its Gallery in order to present the broadest representation of the work of Brett Weston. Our News page will provide information on new projects and ongoing activities.