The First Art Newspaper on the Net Established in 1996 United States Friday, October 31, 2014


Bill Brandt: Shadows and Substance to Open at The Akron Art Museum
Bill Brandt, Parlourmaid and Underparlourmaid Ready to Serve Dinner, 1936, vintage gelatin silver photograph, 9 x 7 inches, matted and framed to 20 x 16 inches © Bill Brandt Archive.

AKRON.- Bill Brandt, England’s greatest twentieth-century photographer, began as a photojournalist and became a poet of light and shadow. Decade by decade, Brandt (1904 – 1983) moved toward evermore radical dualities of black and white, not just in his new photographs but also in his printing of older images. This resulted in his own reinterpretation of his earlier work. Bill Brandt: Shadows and Substance presents 67 photographs from throughout the artist’s career. All are vintage prints, providing a rare opportunity to see the work as the artist originally conceived it.

“I had the good fortune to start my career in Paris in 1929,” he recalled. “Already two modes [of photography] were emerging: the poetic school, of which Man Ray and Edward Weston were the leaders, and the documentary moment-of-truth school. I was attracted by both.” After two years as a studio assistant for American surrealist (and portrait and fashion photographer) Man Ray, Brandt spent the next decade as a freelance photojournalist in England.

For Brandt, emotional truth took precedence over factual information. His “documentary” images of nightlife in London turn out to have been staged, including one where a prostitute (actually his sister-in-law) solicits a customer (her husband) just out of sight of a policeman (a real one who serendipitously walked into the picture).

Brandt found the “extreme social contrast” of the British class system visually inspiring and made it the focus of his work during the Great Depression. His images of upstairs and downstairs life provide an intimate glimpse: the upstairs people are his relatives, the downstairs ones their servants. Toward the decade’s end, Brandt made factual, powerful images of workers and their families in England’s industrial north that are examples of social documentary photography at its finest.

When World War II started, Brandt returned to London to photograph the blacked-out city. “The darkened town, lit only by moonlight, looked more beautiful than before or since,” wrote the photographer. The best known of those images, St. Paul’s Cathedral in the Moonlight, shows the cathedral dome rising above the rubble of bombed-out buildings. It became an important national emblem juxtaposing the damage inflicted by the war and the reason it needed to be endured.

“Toward the end of the war,” wrote Brandt, “my style changed completely.” Moving from documentary to poetic photography, he switched his emphasis from reportage to nudes and landscapes. To photograph nudes, he used a seventy-year old wooden Kodak. It had a wide-angle lens, no shutter, a pinhole sized aperture and a focus set at infinity, “and it saw differently. It created a great illusion of space, an unrealistically steep perspective, and it distorted….Instead of photographing what I saw, I photographed what the camera was seeing…the lens produced anatomical images and shapes which my eyes had never observed.” Brandt’s interest in distortion could also have been inspired by the contorted figures in the paintings of his close friend Francis Bacon.

For landscapes, Brandt found “atmosphere to be the spell that charged the commonplace with beauty…It is a combination of elements, perhaps most simply and yet most inadequately described in technical terms of lighting and viewpoint, which reveals the subject as familiar and yet strange.” The world as seen through Brandt’s lens became an increasingly surreal place.

This effect was enhanced by changes in his printing style. Brandt was always a master printer. “I find the darkroom work most important, as I can finish the composition of a picture only under the enlarger….And there are certainly no rules about the printing of a picture. Now I prefer the very contrasting black-and-white effect. It looks crisper, more dramatic and very different from color photographs,” he explained toward the end of his career.

“Photography is still a very new medium and everything is allowed and everything should be tried,” wrote Bill Brandt. And that is precisely what England’s preeminent photographer did throughout his five-decade career.





Today's News

May 30, 2008

Jeff Koons: First Major US Museum Survey in Fifteen Years at Chicago's MCA

In its Only North American Stop, Exhibition Explores Incredible Legacy of The Greeks

Sotheby's New York to Hold Sale of Important 20th Century Design on June 14

Bill Brandt: Shadows and Substance to Open at The Akron Art Museum

Yellow Mountain: China's Ever-Changing Landscape at Arthur M. Sackler Gallery

Portland Art Museum Presents Thirty Year Klaus Moje Retrospective Exhibit

Lightbox's Architects Win RIBA Award in the South East

Sol LeWitt: Structure and Line at The Austin Museum of Art

Duane Hanson Sculpts the American Dream at Fundacion Canal in Spain

Laurie Rolland Installation at Burlington Art Centre in Canada

Deckchairs by Tracey Emin, Raymond Briggs, Joanna Lumley and Other Stars Unveiled in London's Hyde Park

AXA Art Insurance Offers $25,000 Reward for Missing Picasso Artworks

First International Meeting of Photography Centres in Spain

Christie's Leads Asia with Spring Sales of US $310.7 Million

Metropolitan Museum Explores Relationship of Art and Science during First Annual World Science Festival

Getty Exhibition Opens Window Into the Society of Dilettanti

Groundbreaking Exhibition Explores Transformation of China's Cultural Landscape

Most Popular Last Seven Days



1.- Image of a Christ without a beard, short hair and wearing a toga unearthed in Spain

2.- Giant mosaic unearthed in mysterious tomb in Amphipolis in northern Macedonia

3.- Bonhams sale of 18th century French decorative arts to benefit Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco

4.- Paris flustered by erection of 'sex-toy' sculpture; Paul McCarthy slapped by a passer-by

5.- High art or vile pornography? Marquis de Sade explored in Orsay museum exhibition

6.- 'Cubism: The Leonard A. Lauder Collection' opens at the Metropolitan Museum of Art

7.- Greek culture minister says Elgin Marbles return a matter of 'global heritage'

8.- Vandals deflate Paris 'sex-toy' sculpture by American artist Paul McCarthy after outrage

9.- Exhibition at National Gallery in London explores Rembrandt's final years of painting

10.- 'Hans Memling: A Flemish Renaissance' opens at the Scuderie del Quirinale in Rome

Related Stories



Important Judaica and Israeli & international art bring a combined $7.9 million at Sotheby's New York

Tunisia to auction ousted despot's treasures

Andy Warhol's Mao portraits excluded from the Beijing and Shanghai shows next year

China criticises French Qing dynasty seal auction

Christie's announces auction marking the first half century of the popular and luxurious interiors shop Guinevere

Nine new exhibits debut at San Diego International Airport

Rembrandt masterpiece "Portrait of Catrina Hooghsaet" back on display at National Museum Cardiff

Amber: 40-million-year-old fossilised tree resin is Baltic gold

Egyptian artist Iman Issa wins the Ist FHN Museu d’Art Contemporani de Barcelona Award

The main chapel of the Basilica of Santa Croce open for visits after five year restoration



Museums, Exhibits, Artists, Milestones, Digital Art, Architecture, Photography,
Photographers, Special Photos, Special Reports, Featured Stories, Auctions, Art Fairs,
Anecdotes, Art Quiz, Education, Mythology, 3D Images, Last Week, .

 

Founder:
Ignacio Villarreal
Editor & Publisher: Jose Villarreal - Consultant: Ignacio Villarreal Jr.
Art Director: Juan José Sepúlveda Ramírez - Marketing: Carla Gutiérrez
Special Contributor: Liz Gangemi - Special Advisor: Carlos Amador
Contributing Editor: Carolina Farias

Royalville Communications, Inc
produces:

ignaciovillarreal.org theavemaria.org juncodelavega.org facundocabral-elfinal.org
Founder's Site. The most varied versions
of this beautiful prayer.
Hommage
to a Mexican poet.
Hommage
       

The First Art Newspaper on the Net. The Best Versions Of Ave Maria Song Junco de la Vega Site Ignacio Villarreal Site