Photographs by Bill Brandt
One of the most influential and respected photographers of the 20th century, Bill Brandt (1904—1983) made his first important photograph in 1928 and his last 50 years later. Comprised of work primarily from the MFAH collection, this retrospective offers 50 prints with examples from each of Brandt´s major series.
In the 1930s, Brandt focused on life in Britain, photographing both the wealthy and the poor at home and at work. During the war years he documented people in makeshift air-raid shelters, London during the blackout, and historic buildings and landmarks that were threatened by combat. After World War II, his eye turned to landscapes—especially those associated with England´s great authors—and to portraits of writers and authors. His final great series was of nudes, photographed with a camera that uniquely distorted their bodies. Although Brandt eventually ceased using that camera, his perspectives remained radically new throughout the project.
In each evolution of his work, Brandt took particular care in the darkroom to create the emotional and formal tones and compositions that he sought, eventually printing in a high-contrast style distinct from his contemporaries. As he once wrote, "The photographer must first have seen his subject, or some aspect of his subject as something transcending the ordinary. It is part of the photographer´s job to see more intensely than most people do." To achieve the desired intensity, Brandt brought an unparalleled freshness of vision to his subjects over five decades.
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