Acknowledged as a master of twentieth-century photography and the greatest British photographer, Bill Brandt left an indelible mark on the medium during a career that spanned more than 50 years. Trained in Man Ray's Paris studio, Brandt returned to England and produced a body of work that ranged from portraits of upper-crust society to views of the poverty of the industrial north. During the Blitz of World War II Brandt created an epic picture of blacked-out London, with images of bomb-damaged landmarks and residents sheltering in underground subway stations. After the war, he began a series of nude studies using lens distortions and unusual points of view to interpret the female form in new ways. He also photographed the movers and shakers of the English art scene, from Alec Guinness to David Hockney, and, for a series called Literary Britain, he toured the country tracking down landscapes that had been influential to important British writers.
Mark Haworth-Booth, curator of photography at London's Victoria and Albert Museum, provides a contextual overview and information on Brandt's working methods and biography. David Mellor, professor of art history at the University of Sussex, offers cogent interpretations of the larger significance of Brandt's themes and preoccupations.