Bill Brandt was born in 1904 in Hamburg to German parents of Russian descent. His childhood years were spent mostly in Schleswig-Holstein, Germany and also in Davos, Switzerland. In 1929 Brandt went to Paris and worked for approximately three months in Man Ray’s studio where he learned much from the Parisian art of the period, such as the films of Luis Bunuel and Salvador Dalí and the photographs of Eugène Atget, and André Kertész.
When he returned to England in 1931, he began documenting the English way of life. During World War II Brandt was a staff photographer for the British Home Office, documenting the hard times of Londoners suffering through German bombing raids. He is also known for his series of extraordinary female nudes, particularly distinguished by his use of a wide-angle lens in close-up (causing the body to appear distorted) and by his use of stark black and white tones with little middle range.
In 1981 The Royal Photographic Society inaugurated its National Centre of Photography in Bath with an exhibition of fifty years of Brandt’s pictures. His work has also been honored by a score of smaller shows. In such far-flung cities as Paris, Stockholm, San Francisco, Houston, Boston, and Washington, D.C. Brandt’s pictures are in the collection of London’s Victoria and Albert Museum, New York’s MoMA, Rochester’s International Museum of Photography, and Paris’ Bibliotheque Nationale, which all have major collections of his prints. In 2013 a major retrospective of his work was held at MoMA, New York.
PHOTO LONDON BOOTH B8
19-22 May, Somerset House