Light & Shadow – Research 1

Bill Brandt

Bill Brandt was born May 1904 in Hamburg. To an English father and German mother. In 1918 when he was 14, he painted a watercolour of the family home. After the first world war Brandt was bullied at school, this experience and rise of Nazism caused him to disown his German background. This all caused him to say he was born in South London in later life.

Brandt moved to England in 1934. Which he then adopted Britain as his home and became the subject of some of his greatest photographs. Although he photographed on occasion for the News Chronicle and Weekly Illustrated, Brand wasn’t demanded as a Photojournalist until foundation of Lilliput and Picture Post by the great picture-editor Stefan Lorant.

“He is widely considered to be one of the most important British photographers of the 20th century” – Delany, Paul: Bill Brandt: A Life, Stanford University Press 2004

The Majority of Brandt’s earliest English photography were published firstly in Brandt’s The English at Home (1936).

In 1930s/1940s Bill Brandt experimented with nude photography (as can be seen above). He made a breakthrough in 1944 when he acquired a mahogany and brass camera with a wide-angle lens. He published Perspective of Nudes in 1961. Ut featured nudes in domestic interiors and studios, and on the beaches of East Sussex and Southern France. He used a Superwide Hasselblad for the beach photographs.

Bill Brandt died short after an illness in 1983 when he was working on a show, Bill Brandt’s Literary Britain. Which, following his death became a memorial Tribute the following year.

‘Instead of photographing what I saw, I photographed what the camera was seeing. I interfered very little, and the lens produced anatomical images and shapes which my eyes had never observed.’- Bill Brandt


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