Bill Brandt  (British, 1904-1983) 

Bill Brandt (British, May 2, 1904–December 20, 1983) was a photographer famous for his photojournalism work documenting aspects of British life. Although he was born in Hamburg, Germany, he disowned his German heritage and said that he was born in London. In 1929, he started his photography career in France. The country was a leader in the movement to use photography as an artistic statement instead of just a documentary endeavor. While he was in Paris, Brandt was influenced by the work of Man Ray (American, August 27, 1890–November 18, 1976), and studied at his studio.

Brandt returned to England in 1931, and took up photojournalism. His main interest was the varied socio-economic contrasts that he found among the British people. Brandt published two books about these photographs: The English at Home (1936) and A Night in London (1938). One of his best series is a set of pictures showing coal miners from northern Great Britain during the Depression. Coal Searcher Going Home to Jarrow is the most well-known of the series.

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 (American, 1886–1958) and Orson Welles (American, 1915–1985). 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 overall best works are showcased in Shadow of Light (1966). The artist was honored with a huge retrospective gallery display at London's Victoria and Albert Museum in 2004. His Kensington home displays an English Heritage Blue Plaque, a rare achievement for a photographer. Brandt died on December 20, 1983.

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Bill Brandt, Girl Reclining at Eaton Place


Bill Brandt
Girl Reclining at Eaton Place

G. Gibson Gallery
Bill Brandt, Micheldever (Nude), Hampshire


Bill Brandt
Micheldever (Nude), Hampshire

G. Gibson Gallery
Bill Brandt, Nude, East Sussex


Bill Brandt
Nude, East Sussex

Atlas Gallery
Bill Brandt, London


Bill Brandt

Atlas Gallery
Bill Brandt, Nu, Egalyières, France


Bill Brandt
Nu, Egalyières, France

Atlas Gallery
Bill Brandt, Nude with Mirror through Gauze, 1930s


Bill Brandt
Nude with Mirror through Gauze, 1930s
Bruce Silverstein
Bill Brandt, Rainswept Roofs, London, 1932


Bill Brandt
Rainswept Roofs, London, 1932
Bruce Silverstein
Bill Brandt, Parlourmaid Preparing a Bath


Bill Brandt
Parlourmaid Preparing a Bath

Michael Shapiro Photographs
Bill Brandt, Jean Arp's Eye


Bill Brandt
Jean Arp's Eye

Edwynn Houk Gallery
Past auction results (1472)  View All
Bill Brandt, Air-raid shelter in Liverpool Street tube station tunnel, London


Bill Brandt
Air-raid shelter in Liverpool Street tube station tunnel, London, 1940
gelatin silver print, mntd


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Bill Brandt, Nu


Bill Brandt
Nu, 1952-1956
gelatin silver print, mntd


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Bill Brandt, Grand Union Canal, Paddington


Bill Brandt
Grand Union Canal, Paddington, 1938
gelatin silver print


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1904   Born in Hamburg, Germany
1927   Travelled to Vienna, where he was taken up by Dr Eugenie Schwarzwald
1930   Assisted Man Ray in Paris for several months
1931   Moved to London
1932   Married Eva Boros
1934   Settled, with wife, in Belsize park, north London
1937   Visited the industrial north of England for the first time
1938   'The Perfect Parlourmaid' appeared first in Verve magazine and then in Picture Post
1938   Brandt's second book, A Night in London, was published in London and Paris
1983   Died after a short illness
2013   Shadow and Light, MOMA, New York, USA
2008   Private and Public: Class, personality, Politics, and Landscape in British Photography, Cantor Arts Center at Stanford University, Stanford, CA
2008   Photographs by Bill Brandt: A Sense of Wonder, MFAH - Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, TX
2007   Oog/Eye, Foam Fotografiemuseum, Amsterdam
2007   A Selection of Exceptional Vintage Photographs, Stephen Daiter Gallery, Chicago, IL
2007   VIP, National Gallery of Australia, Canberra, ACT
2006   Busy Going Crazy, the Sylvio Perlstein Collection, La Maison Rouge, Paris
2006   Making History - Art and Documentary in Britain from 1929 to Now, Tate Liverpool, Liverpool (England)
2006   Bill Brandt - A Retrospective, Boca Raton Museum of Art, Boca Raton, FL
2005   Magritte Prive, BOZAR - Palais des Beaux-Arts/ Paleis voor Schone Kunsten, Brussels
2005   De la comtesse De Castiglione a Cindy Sherman, Galerie de France, Paris
2004   Few Are Chosen: Street Photography and the Book, 1936-1966, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York City, NY
2004   The Artist Observed - Portraits and Self-Portraits, Cantor Arts Center at Stanford University, Stanford, CA
2003   Flesh Tones - 100 Years of the Nude, Robert Mann Gallery, New York City, NY
2003   Looking at Photographs - 125 photographs from the Muesum of Modern Art, New York, The State Hermiatge Museum, St. Petersburg
2003   Bill Branft: A Retrospective, Yale Center for British Art, New Haven, CT
2002   World War II: Vintage Photographs, Lee Gallery, Winchester, MA
2002   Der Akt in der Kunst des 20, Jahrhunderts, Kunsthallein Emden, Emden
2001   The Fine Art of Photography, Scottish National Portrait Gallery, Ediburgh (Scotland)
2001   Known and Unknown, Edwynn Houk Gallery, New York
1998   In the Cold: Photography 1945 - 1965, Art Gallery of South Australia, Adelaide, SA