Sunday, July 3, 2022

Bill Brandt

Bill Brandt (1904-1983) was born in Germany as Hermann Wilhelm Brandt, but after he emigrated to Britain in 1933 he always called himself Bill. I discovered him through the 1947 photograph above, Stonehenge in the Snow; I have to agree with those who say this is the best photograph of Stonehenge ever taken.

So on a slow July Sunday I decided to look Brandt up and see what else he had done. I found some things that I like a lot, and others that are just strange. Here is one I love, Top Withens, Yorkshire, 1945.

And another, Battersea Power Station, 1930s.

Bombed Regency Staircase, London, 1942.

But what actually made Brandt art-world famous was a long series of nudes he did between the late 1950s and the mid 1960s. All are titled "Nude." Most show an elbow or a knee or what have you. Others, like this one, are overexposed, blurring the human details. The effect is to turn bodies into abstract forms. Does nothing for me. 

Brandt also did many more conventional photographs of people. Early in his career he did a lot of documenting the bourgeoisie at play, as in Losing at the Horse Races, Paris, 1932.

During the Depression he produced some documents of poverty; this is East Durham Coal Searchers, 1937. Coal searchers combed over spoil heaps outside coal mines in search of burnable coal, which they sold. A pretty good sign of desperation and economic collapse.

Here's a fine portrait, Francis Bacon on Primrose Hill, London, 1963.

But its the landscapes and building photographs that get me. Here is A Snicket in Halifax, 1937.

River Cuckmere, 1963.

1 comment:

Shadow said...

The spoil heaps remind me of the slag-heap in How Green Was My Valley.