Paris, 1929
Paris, 1929
Apres Midi au Bois de Boulogne, Paris, 1931
Apres Midi au Bois de Boulogne, Paris, 1931
Le Chateau de Chantilly, 1931
Le Chateau de Chantilly, 1931
Paris, 1931
Paris, 1931
At the Races, Paris, 1931
At the Races, Paris, 1931
Races, Paris, 1931
Races, Paris, 1931
Paris, 1929
Paris, 1929
Hungary, 1933
Hungary, 1933
Hungary, 1933
Hungary, 1933
Hungary, 1933
Hungary, 1933
Hungary, 1933
Hungary, 1933
Hungary, 1933
Hungary, 1933
Barcelona, 1932
Barcelona, 1932
Barcelona, 1932
Barcelona, 1932
Barcelona, 1932
Barcelona, 1932
Barcelona, 1932
Barcelona, 1932
Gypsies, Spain, 1932
Gypsies, Spain, 1932
Vienna, 1933
Vienna, 1933
Westminster, 1946
Westminster, 1946
London Bridge, 1939
London Bridge, 1939
After the Celebration, London, 1934
After the Celebration, London, 1934
Rainswept Roofs, South London, 1933
Rainswept Roofs, South London, 1933
Rainswept Roofs, South London, 1933
Rainswept Roofs, South London, 1933
Ascot, 1935
Ascot, 1935
London, 1930's
London, 1930's
Blackout in Bloomsbury, March 1942
Blackout in Bloomsbury, March 1942
Brighton Beach, 1936
Brighton Beach, 1936
Circus Boyhood, 1932
Circus Boyhood, 1932
Eton, c. 1935
Eton, c. 1935
Garden Party, 1936
Garden Party, 1936
Garden Party, 1936
Garden Party, 1936
Parlourmaid and Underparlourmaid Ready to Serve Dinner, Mayfair, 1936
Parlourmaid and Underparlourmaid Ready to Serve Dinner, Mayfair, 1936
Peace Time Cricket, 1936
Peace Time Cricket, 1936
Parlourmaid Serving Tea, Mayfair, 1936
Parlourmaid Serving Tea, Mayfair, 1936
Bermondsey Night, May 1937
Bermondsey Night, May 1937
Backyard in Sheffield Slums, 1937
Backyard in Sheffield Slums, 1937
Street in Bethnel Green, 1939
Street in Bethnel Green, 1939
Bedroom in West Ham, c. 1939
Bedroom in West Ham, c. 1939
East End, 1937
East End, 1937
At Charlie Brown's, 1945
At Charlie Brown's, 1945
London Barmaid, Stepney, c. 1939
London Barmaid, Stepney, c. 1939
East Durham, c. 1937
East Durham, c. 1937
Country Durham, c. 1937
Country Durham, c. 1937
Country Durham, c. 1937
Country Durham, c. 1937
New Castle, 1937
New Castle, 1937
A Snicket in Halifax, 1937
A Snicket in Halifax, 1937
Isle of Skye, 1947
Isle of Skye, 1947
Isle of Skye, 1947
Isle of Skye, 1947
Yorkshire, 1944
Yorkshire, 1944
Yorkshire Moors
Yorkshire Moors
Stonehenge Under Snow, 1947
Stonehenge Under Snow, 1947
In Haworth Parsonage
In Haworth Parsonage
Jean Dubuffet, 1963
Jean Dubuffet, 1963
Jean Arp, 1963
Jean Arp, 1963
Rene Magritte, 1966
Rene Magritte, 1966
Dylan Thomas, 1941
Dylan Thomas, 1941
Edith and Osbert Sitwell, 1945
Edith and Osbert Sitwell, 1945
E.M. Foster, Kings College, Cambridge, 1947
E.M. Foster, Kings College, Cambridge, 1947
Robert Graves, 1941
Robert Graves, 1941
Graham Greene, 1948
Graham Greene, 1948
London, 1930's
London, 1930's
Nude, 1929
Nude, 1929
Hampstead, London, 1945
Hampstead, London, 1945
Nude, c. 1945-47
Nude, c. 1945-47
Nude, 1940's
Nude, 1940's
April, 1950
April, 1950
Baie des Anges, France, 1958
Baie des Anges, France, 1958
Belgravia, London, 1951
Belgravia, London, 1951
Belgravia, London, 1953
Belgravia, London, 1953
Belgravia, London, February, 1958
Belgravia, London, February, 1958
Nude, c. 1950
Nude, c. 1950
Nude, c. 1956
Nude, c. 1956
Campden Hill, London, 1952
Campden Hill, London, 1952
Campden Hill, 1950's
Campden Hill, 1950's
Campden Hill, London, 1951
Campden Hill, London, 1951
Campden Hill, London, 1955-79
Campden Hill, London, 1955-79
London, 1958
London, 1958
December, 1955
December, 1955
East Sussex Coast, 1959
East Sussex Coast, 1959
East Sussex Coast, 1958
East Sussex Coast, 1958
Portrait of a Young Girl, Easton Place, London, 1955
Portrait of a Young Girl, Easton Place, London, 1955
Hampstead, London, 1953
Hampstead, London, 1953
London, 1953
London, 1953
London, 1954
London, 1954
London, 1955
London, 1955
London, 1956
London, 1956
London, 1956
London, 1956
Nude, 1957
Nude, 1957
Nude, c. 1950
Nude, c. 1950
St. John's Wood, 1950's
St. John's Wood, 1950's
Taxo d'Aval, France, 1957
Taxo d'Aval, France, 1957
Vastiveral, Normandy, 1957
Vastiveral, Normandy, 1957
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Bill Brandt

Known and Unknown


March 15 - May 5, 2001
New York

Bill Brandt created a unique body of work, ranging from stark photojournalism and moody landscapes, to bold portraits and highly abstract nudes. Welding together the two dominant currents of modernist photography, the documentary and the surreal, Brandt developed his own intensely expressive style.

Brandt (British, b. Germany 1904-83) began his career in Paris in 1929 when he trained as Man Ray’s assistant. In 1931 he settled in London to work on his first important project, the production of the classic book The English at Home. In it, Brandt recorded the marked contrasts underlying British society, with its sharp separation between the worlds of the “upstairs” and “downstairs”, of high society and of the working class. This first publication was followed in 1936 by A Night in London, an exploration of the city’s darker aspects inspired by Paris de nuit, the work of Brandt’s good friend Brassaï. Throughout the 1930s and early 1940s, Brandt established his reputation as a photojournalist, working steadily
for The Weekly Illustrated, Liliput, and Picture Post. Brandt’s chronicles of
industrial towns hit by economic hardship in the north of England, and of London in the time of the Blitz, are classics examples of documentary photography.

In the post-war period, Brandt’s work underwent a dramatic shift in focus. As Brandt himself explained it he “gradually lost his enthusiasm for reportage”, finding that his “main theme of the past few years had disappeared; England was no longer a country of marked social contrast.” Brandt then turned to nudes, portraits and landscapes.

Although not always understood at the time, Brandt’s series of nudes are considered today as his most innovative work. With their dramatic use of the contrasting values of black and white, and with their exploration of optical deformations, the nudes read as daring studies in abstractions, reminiscent of Henry Moore’s sculptures. At the same time, Brandt developed the symbolist potential of photography in a series of landscapes infused with the spirit of Romanticism and directly inspired by the writings of poets and novelists such as Emily Brontë.

Himself an important figure of the British artistic and intellectual scene, Brandt produced striking portraits of celebrated contemporaries, such as Francis Bacon, E.M. Forster, Dylan Thomas and Henry Moore.

In 1969, New York’s Museum of Modern Art honored Brandt with a first retrospective of his work. Several solo shows followed at both museums and galleries in Europe and the United States. In 1981, two years before Brandt’s death, the Royal Photographic Society inaugurated its National Centre of Photography in Bath with a retrospective. In 1999, the International Center of Photography (New York) presented a retrospective of rare vintage prints. This was accompanied by the publication of the comprehensive monograph Brandt: The Photography of Bill Brandt.

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