COURSEWORK: THE LANGUAGE OF LIGHT

RESEARCH FOR EXERCISE 4.5

Bill Brandt 1904-1983

brandt 1  (Brandt, n.d)

 

Brandt wrote that he admired photography’s power to make people see the world anew, to experience it with “a sense of wonder.” (Smith, 2013). He had a distinctive visual style, which came from many different influences, documentary photography, surrealism, Brassai, Agtet, Paris then England. This resulted in a wide range of photography from night photography, portraits, landscapes, city views, to light bathed abstract female nudes taken from exaggerated viewpoints. Brandt saw this as his most important body of work, and many of his best pictures in the genre are in Perspective of Nudes (1961). He drew on Surrealist distortion, and shunning eroticism in favour of highly abstract compositions and psychological drama.

 

His “The English at Home” (1936) and “A Night in London” (1938) showed a variety of subject matter, particularly across different levels of the British class system: miners, parlor maids, wealthy Londoner’s, the London blackout. It was his feeling for social life – and for all types, from the working class to artists and writers – that lent distinction to his work”, (Houk, n.d).  He toured Britain to document the country’s most inspirational landscapes, from northern industrial towns to Hadrian’s Wall and Stonehenge. These were often uninhabited and melancholy with “a coldness about these pictures but also a haunting beauty” (Golden, 2013)

Many of his photographs invite questions, like “Belgravia, London” — in which a woman’s legs loom from the bottom of the image and makes us wonder where the photographer is.

brandt 2 (Admin 2012)

Whilst some like those taken on pebbly beaches seem strange as human parts are juxtapositioned on the pebbles.

brandt 3 (Admin, 2012)

 

He certainly preferred to rely on ‘camera vision’ rather than his own subjective vision: “Instead of photographing what I saw, I photographed what the camera was seeing. I interfered very little, and the lens produced anatomical images and shapes which my eyes had never observed”.                                                                          (Victoria and Albert Museum, n,d).

 

I am particularly inspired by his work and will experiment with some of his techniques, particularly juxtapositioning and abstraction.

Chris Steel Perkins (b 1949)

He joined Magnum in and began working in the Third World, most recently Afghanistan and Japan. His work has won several awards, including the The Robert Capa Gold Medal in 1989. He sometimes uses juxtapostioning and interesting framing. When asked “What’s the greatest picture you didn’t take?” He said “The one I missed yesterday, then the one I missed the day before” (Steele, 2011).

steel p (Steele-Perkins, n.d)

I especially like his unusual use of framing.

References:

Admin (2012) Bill Brandt – Inspiration from Masters of Photography. http://121clicks.com/inspirations/bill-brandt-inspiration-from-masters-of-photography (accessed 4.4.16).

 

Brandt (n.d). Bill Brandt Archive. The photography of Bill Brandt: http://www.billbrandt.com/ (accessed 4.4.16). 

Golden, R (2013) Masters of photography. (Third edition). London. Goodman books.

 

Houk, E, (n.d) Edwyn Houk gallery: http://www.houkgallery.com/artists/bill-brandt/ (accessed 4.4.16).

 

Smith, R (2013). A Camera Ravenous for Emotional Depth. Bill Brandt: Shadow and Light at MoMA. New York Times, page C21. 7.3.2013: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/03/08/arts/design/bill-brandt-shadow-and-light-at-moma.html?_r=0 (accessed 4.4.16).

 

Steele Perkins, C (24.1.11) Q & A. The Telegraph. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/photography/8278879/Chris-Steele-Perkins-QandA.html (accessed 4.4.16).

 

Steele Perkins, C (n.d) Chris Steele-Perkins. Magnum Photographer: http://www.chrissteeleperkins.com/# (accessed 4.4.16).

 

Victoria and Albert Museum (n.d) Bill Brandt Biography: http://www.vam.ac.uk/content/articles/b/bill-brandt-biography/ (accessed 4.4.16).

 

 

 

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