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Thread: Brett Weston Books

  1. #21
    Jeffery Dale Welker
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    Re: Brett Weston Books

    Quote Originally Posted by Merg Ross View Post
    Doug, thanks for mentioning this. It's an interesting chat, and Randy's book is excellent.

    However, the group knew Brett in his later years, when he was better off financially. And, of course, better known for his work. I am reminded of Merle Armitage writing of the time that he published Edward Weston's first book in 1932; "When I met Edward, he was a little local Southern California photographer. I had to struggle like hell to get the book out. Where he would have been without this is your guess, as only a very few discerning people in California had even heard of him." Twenty-five years later, Merle published Brett's first book, shortly before Edward died.

    I watched Brett struggle through the 50's and 60's. He had no money for the luxuries of life that came later. He was poor, even taking work as a laborer and plumber. When I was seventeen, I worked alongside him building the house that my father had designed for him in the Carmel Highlands. Brett would rather have been photographing, but he knew that he could not exist on his work alone; that would come. When he met me in New York City, early in 1960, he had taken the train from California; it was all he could afford. I got him a room at the YMCA. The purpose of his visit was arranged by David McAlpin, his and Edward's patron for many years; an opportunity for Brett to sell some prints at a gathering in Princeton. I was there that evening; he sold some prints, took the train back to California, and departed on his first European trip a few months later.

    It 1972, I suggested to Brett that he consider applying for a NEA grant to photograph in Alaska. I had sent for the forms, but did not apply as our daughter was recently born. Brett did apply, and was selected. He was very excited, and invited me along. I could not accept, but was happy for Brett.

    Sorry for getting so far off topic, but a reminder that many of those we hold in high regard had their struggles. In the case of Brett, he was driven by an unusual passion and dedication. We are rewarded by the marvelous results.
    Dedicating one's life to the pursuit of art seems to always include sacrifice and suffering. I very much admire those willing to follow that path.
    "I have this feeling of walking around for days with the wind knocked out of me." - Jim Harrison

  2. #22
    Drew Wiley
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    Re: Brett Weston Books

    Sometimes the suffering and dedication attendant on family responsibilities and so forth overshadow secondary artistic career impulses. Or maybe we just don't want to go through the "starving artist" phase. I've seen enough of those scenarios. But that certainly doesn't mean the actual quality itself of one's creative output necessarily suffers from the fact we've chosen a different practical path. Very few allegedly great photographers printmakers actually made their primarily living in that specific manner. And a number of us don't like being held hostage to academic pontification, any more than to transient decor fads.

  3. #23
    Pieter's Avatar
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    Re: Brett Weston Books

    Quote Originally Posted by Drew Wiley View Post
    Sometimes the suffering and dedication attendant on family responsibilities and so forth overshadow secondary artistic career impulses. Or maybe we just don't want to go through the "starving artist" phase. I've seen enough of those scenarios. But that certainly doesn't mean the actual quality itself of one's creative output necessarily suffers from the fact we've chosen a different practical path. Very few allegedly great photographers printmakers actually made their primarily living in that specific manner. And a number of us don't like being held hostage to academic pontification, any more than to transient decor fads.
    Unfortunately, success usually has very little to do with talent and more with luck, marketing and societal whims.

  4. #24
    Drew Wiley
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    Re: Brett Weston Books

    Happy coincidences, who ya happen to know, luck, whatever ya wanna call it, does seem to be an essential ingredient, at least acquiring momentum. But ya gotta have the goods too. And regionality factors. There is far more tendency to admire excellent photography around here than to outright buy it. And those who do collect inevitably include some "gotta keep up with the Jones'" conspicuous-consumption mentality types, with very little personal taste at all. But it's always been a fickle business. I've certainly supplemented my income in this manner, and in fact when I most needed it; but that's never been what drives me. There are plenty of other ways to make a living and still do what you like doing without compromise.

  5. #25

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    Re: Brett Weston Books

    Quote Originally Posted by Pieter View Post
    Unfortunately, success usually has very little to do with talent and more with luck, marketing and societal whims.
    Ansel Adams didn't really take off in the market until later in his career when he apparently got a manager/marketer involved. Then he did Datsun TV commercials and suddenly his prices rose a lot. Marketing is where most we see fall short. A lot of shlock types who can market make a ton of money.
    "My forumla for successful printing remains ordinary chemicals, an ordinary enlarger, music, a bottle of scotch - and stubbornness." W. Eugene Smith

  6. #26
    Drew Wiley
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    Re: Brett Weston Books

    AA was entering old age; and he was already about as firmly established in terms recognition as one could hope for. Having a formal marketer might or might not be the catalyst. He made a decent living as a commercial photographer, and unquestionably knew how to promote himself in that respect, with time left over for his artistic and environmental efforts. The rest was just butter atop the bread, and probably more financially important to his heirs than himself. The proverbial art sterotype : Van Gogh never sold a painting except once when his own brother felt sorry for him; and he even had to give away one of his own ears. We had a major painter in our own family and know all too well the career mantra - famous one years, forgotten the next, then rediscovered, around the wheel goes, over and over. But ya still gotta eat, regardless.

  7. #27

    Re: Brett Weston Books

    Quote Originally Posted by Salmo22 View Post
    Dedicating one's life to the pursuit of art seems to always include sacrifice and suffering. I very much admire those willing to follow that path.
    Yes. Absolutely moving and inspiring. As Vincent van Gogh was fond of writing (apparently quoting St. Paul): "Sorrowful, but always rejoicing."

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