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After a long span as a photojournalist, from the early 's to the end of World War II, during which he made memorable studies of English life and class contrasts, Bill Brandt found himself turning toward a more poetic, fanciful expression. Portraits, landscapes and nudes began to take over his lens. He is supposed to have said that his photographs of nudes were the works by which he wanted to be remembered.
Photography made its entry into the arena of the fine arts as a kind of substitute for painting, yet in the course of its long history it has annexed itself to a broad spectrum of interests ranging from social reportage and historical documentary to esoteric aestheticism and pure abstraction. Brandt, who was born in Germany and launched his career in Paris in as a studio assistant to Man Ray-one of the stars of the then-regnant Surrealist movement-brought a remarkable versatility to his photographic endeavors. Brandt was very quick, however, to respond to the profound social changes that World War II and its aftermath brought to the English scene.
Bill Brandt was born into an Anglo-German family in Hamburg. He moved to London in the early s and Britain became his adopted home. Brandt used black and white photography, and especially its ability to provide strong contrasts of light and shade, to document the social extremes of life in Britain, particularly those of the capital city see, for example, Tate P — P In he published The English at Homewhich highlighted stark societal contrasts.
Connolly, M. Jay, N. Durrell, M.
B ill Brandt came to London for good at the beginning of April He wanted to be English, and really belong to the fairy-tale island. This meant inventing a new identity for himself, as he turned 30, but also inventing an England that would satisfy his childhood fantasies.
Black and white photograph by Bill Brandt of a hand, making a loose fist, curled over some pebbles. The horizion suggests a seascape beyond. Bill Brandt was perhaps Britain's greatest 20th century photographer. He took up photography when living in Vienna in the s, and spent three months assisting the surrealist Man Ray in his studio in Paris before settling in London in
Fusing together the two dominant currents of modernist photography—the documentary and the surreal, Brandt created a unique and intensely expressive style. Indicative of this style, his nude images evoke a mysterious tranquility, forcing the viewer to contemplate the ambiguity of form. Brandt British, b. In he embarked on his first important project, the production of The English at Home.