Duncan Phillips began collecting works by Weston in the late 1920s, and in his writings, Phillips compared Weston to Van Gogh. Phillips wrote: "[Weston’s art] is something earthy and rugged and at the same time of a lyric poignancy, something unguardedly and tactlessly frank yet tenderly humane.” Duncan and Marjorie Phillips became close friends of the artist, who had four solo exhibitions at the museum.
The Weston unit is extensive, encompassing most of the major stylistic phases and subjects he explored in a career more than a half-century long. Though Weston's style changed, he continually tried to capture the emotional essence of experiences. An early work, Persian Afternoon, 1918, glows gently with hues evocative of lapis lazuli and coral. By the later 1920s, human imagery became prominent in Weston's paintings. The artist showed people privately, often oblivious to being observed. Aegean Summer, 1958-60, is a transitional work that reveals his movement toward abstraction. Calligraphic lines capture the essence of glistening light on the waves while intense non-associative colors contribute a feeling of fantasy. Painted in gouache in 1968, Stone Series # 17: Blue Beyond Blues is a visual vortex of interlocking spirals, in gradation from deep to light blues. Microcosmic and energetic, it transcends the visible, evoking infinity.