Bill Brandt: A Twist of Perception

“Bill Brandt: Shadow and Light" in The New York Review

"Bill Brandt…is to photography what a sculptor is to a block of marble," wrote Lawrence Durrell. "His pictures read into things, try to get at the hidden presence which dwells in the inanimate object. Whether his subject is live or not-whether woman or child or human hand or stone-he detaches it from its context by some small twist of perception and lodges it securely in the world of Platonic forms."


Bill Brandt was one of the great modernist photographers of the twentieth century; Brassaï called him "a master." Born in Hamburg in 1904, he took up photography in Vienna in the late 1920s. He then moved to Paris, where-thanks to an introduction arranged by Ezra Pound, whose portrait he had made in 1928-he spent several months as an apprentice in the studio of the Surrealist photographer Man Ray. During his time in Paris, Brandt also discovered the work of two other photographers who became profound influences on his own approach to making images: Eugène Atget and Brassaï, whose landmark book Paris by Night (1933) was the model for Brandt's second book, A Night in London (1938).

7 September 2013