Only in Milwaukee will visitors see the
exhibitions of works by two of the most respected photographers of the 20th
century, on view side by side. Bill Brandt: A Retrospective and Edward
Weston: Life Work are on view at the Milwaukee Art Museum December 13, 2002
- February 9, 2003. The exhibitions, made up largely of vintage prints,
contain a full range of works by Bill Brandt and Edward Weston. Brandt and
Weston: Two Geniuses of Photography traces the creative growth and stylistic
changes of each artist, presenting their distinctive and innovative visions
side by side.
"Brandt and Weston: Two Geniuses of Photography offers a unique opportunity
to view together the full range of work by these two highly influential
masters of photography," said Brian Ferriso, senior director of Curatorial
Affairs at MAM. "Both Brandt and Weston are celebrated for their treatment
of photography as an art form. These two icons had a huge impact on the art
world and how people view photography."
Bill Brandt: A Retrospective
Bill Brandt: A Retrospective explores the wide ranging work of this
British master photographer. Brandt's work is familiar to viewers because
he is the inventor of his style - the trademark grainy gray British light
evident in his photographs From Brandt's early work that documents fixed
social contrasts of pre-World War II life in Britain to his later
experimentation with a surreal style, this exhibition spans 50 years of
Brandt's far reaching career in an extensive assemblage of 155 vintage
gelatin silver prints from the Bill Brandt Archive in London.
Brandt's vision, unconfined by easy categories, extends from photojournalism
to moody, atmospheric landscapes to stark, revealing portraiture to
high-contrast nudes, distorted with very wide-angle lenses.
"No other British photographer has made so many memorable
photographs as Bill Brandt. He excelled in all fields - social scenes,
Surrealism, night photography, wartime documentary, landscape, portraiture
and the nude," writes Mark Hayworth-Booth, curator at the Victoria and
Albert Museum, London.
Through his work as Man Ray's assistant in Paris in 1929 and as a
freelancer for the Weekly Illustrated in London in the 1930's, Bill Brandt
(1904-1983) developed an expressive, high-key style that pushed accepted
boundaries of documentary and journalism when photographing the destitute
villages and mining towns of northern England. After World War II, Brandt's
work underwent a dramatic shift in focus. He left his documentary style
behind and returned to his interests in the surreal. Brandt then turned to
nudes, portraits and landscapes.
Today, Brandt's formally plastic and haunting nude studies from this period
are considered as some of his most innovative work. Brandt defined new
territory showing among other things, photography's kinship with sculpture
and modernist abstraction. At the same time, Brandt developed the symbolist
potential of photography in a series of landscapes inhabited by the spirit
Brandt's achievement in photography lies in his uncanny ability to uncover
the truthful, absurd, dramatic, monumental and transcendent qualities of his
subject. The exhibition spans Brandt's entire life's work from the early
Paris photographs to the documentary work of the 1930s and '40s, and the
later landscapes, nudes and portraits.
Edward Weston: Life Work
Edward Weston: Life Work is a survey of nearly 100 works by this
great American artist, containing an outstanding grouping of vintage prints
from all phases of Weston's five-decade career. Edward Weston (1886-1958)
is often cited as the quintessential American modernist photographer.
Weston's work exhibits pure form, a minimalist style and an elegant
presentation of form. His work is marked by subtle and rich tonalities that
enhance the elegant formal beauty of his subjects.
In this exhibition, previously unpublished masterpieces are interspersed
with well-known signature images. Grouped into seven major bodies of work,
the exhibition begins with his rarely-exhibited early period and ends with
his late landscapes of the California coast.
Highlights include a work thought to be Weston's first nude, a striking 1909
outdoor Pictorialist study of his wife Flora. A smoky view of the Chicago
River harbor from 1916 pays homage to Coburn and Stieglitz, and anticipates
the urban modernism famously captured by Armco Steel, Ohio, 1922, which
marked Weston's final break from the confines of Pictorialism and studio
work, and the emergence of a sharply focused style. In the 1920's, Weston
continued to experiment with pure form and disconcerting scale shifts in his
long exposures of shells, peppers, mushrooms, radishes and kelp. The
studies segue naturally into a remarkable set of sculptural nudes done in
1933 and 1934. In the mid 1930's and 40's, Weston pulled back and loosened
up his style as he turned to the open landscape. The chronological survey
concludes with Weston's consummate final photograph, nicknamed The Dody
Rocks, Point Lobos (Something Out of Nothing), 1948.
Edward Weston: Life Work is drawn from the significant private
collection of Michael Mattis and Judith Hochberg. Most of the works were
acquired from members of the Weston family. These include a large
collection from his daughter-in-law, Dody Weston Thompson, as well as a
Weston family album incorporating rare early self-portraits and landscapes.
Only at the Milwaukee Art Museum
Brandt and Weston: Two Geniuses of Photography offers Milwaukeeans
and out-of-town visitors alike an escape from the hustle and bustle of the
holiday season. Linking the two exhibitions will be a salon-like setting,
providing a comfortable and contemplative space for
people to view the exhibitions. Visitors can meet in the central area to
discuss the art and ideas surrounding them or browse through photography
books about these two great masters.
In the tradition of great salons as gathering places for artists and
literary figures, MAM hosts a series of Salon Nights in the exhibition
gallery. Discussions surrounding a variety of topics related to the
exhibitions will be held in January and February.