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About

Bill Brandt (1904-1983) was a photographer famous for his photojournalistic work documenting aspects of British life. Although born in Hamburg, he relinquished his German heritage and claimed to have been born in London. In 1929, he started his photography career in France, where many artists were using photography as an artistic statement instead of just a documentary endeavor. In Paris, Brandt was influenced by the work of Man Ray, in whose studio he studied, and of Brassaï, who would become a lifelong friend.

When Brandt returned to England in 1931, his main interest became the varied socio-economic contrasts he observed among the British people, eventually publishing two monographs on the subject: The English at Home (1936) and A Night in London (1938). After World War II, Brandt’s style shifted back to the artistic, Expressionist style that he had learned as a young man. He focused on landscapes, nudes, and portraits.Portrait of a Young Girl is still widely reproduced, and Brandt said that he felt its technique may have inspired the film Citizen Kane. Brandt admired the work of Edward Weston and Orson Welles. Taking a cue from their words, he liked to use older cameras that did not mimic human vision capabilities, and he often employed wide-angled lenses, especially when he photographed nudes. These works are collected in Perspective of Nudes (1961).

A sampling of Brandt’s best works are showcased in Shadow of Light (1966). His photographs were first exhibited by Marlborough Fine Art in London in 1976, followed by a second Marlborough exhibition that traveled between the New York and London galleries in 1981. The artist was honored with a retrospective at London’s Victoria and Albert Museum in 2004. His Kensington home displays an English Heritage Blue Plaque, a rare achievement for a photographer.

 

List of Public Collections

Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago, Illinois

Block Museum of Art, Northwestern University, Evanston, Illinois

Cleveland Museum of Art, Cleveland, Ohio

Currier Museum of Art, Manchester, New Hampshire

Dallas Museum of Art, Dallas, Texas

Fred Jones Jr. Museum of Art, University of Oklahoma, Norman, Oklahoma\

Harvard Art Museums, Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts

The International Center of Photography, New York, New York

J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles, California

Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Los Angeles, California

The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, New York

Museum of Contemporary Photography, Columbia College, Chicago, Illinois

The Museum of Modern Art, New York, New York

National Galleries of Scotland, Edinburgh, Scotland

National Gallery of Art, Washington, District of Columbia

Philadelphia Museum of Art, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Portland Art Museum, Portland, Oregon

Princeton University Art Museum, Princeton, New Jersey

Reina Sofía National Museum, Madrid, Spain

San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, San Francisco, California

Smithsonian Institution, Washington, District of Columbia

Tate Gallery, London, England

Victoria and Albert Museum, London, England

Yale Center for British Art, Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut

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