Discuss a Bill Brandt photograph

Discussion in 'Discussing a ****** Photograph' started by catem, Aug 18, 2006.

  1. catem

    catem Member

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    I thought it was about time we had a few more photographers from the other side of the Pond :smile: Not implying that either side of said Pond are the only places to draw photographers from...so lets have some different nationalities, the more the better...

    I've chosen Bill Brandt as someone I admire, for many reasons - his versatility, for one, he was able to move easily from portraiture to documentary to landscape to innovative work. The way printing was integral to his art, another.

    It's very hard to pick one, so I've chosen two (& it would be good to bring others in through the thread), The first is one I've always liked a lot - it's his portrait of Francis Bacon, taken in 1963.
    www.masters-of-photography.com/B/brandt/brandt_francis_bacon_full.html


    The second is Miners Returning to Daylight, South Wales 1931-35
    www.masters-of-photography.com/B/brandt/brandt_miners_returning_full.html

    Cate
     
  2. bjorke

    bjorke Member

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    The Bacon pic is one of my all time favorites. So simple, so... not
     
  3. Artur Zeidler

    Artur Zeidler Inactive

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    Bill Brandt was such a wonderful photographer. Influential on many today and yet often so little known.

    This is one of my favorites


    [​IMG]
     
  4. Inayat Noor

    Inayat Noor Subscriber

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    Bill Brandt at the Boca Raton Art Museum

    There is currently an excellent Bill Brandt exhibition at the Boca Raton Art Museum in Boca Raton, Florida. All of his work is well represented.
     
  5. catem

    catem Member

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    Mine too - I nearly posted it with the others!
    Surprising you say 'often so little known?' Not the case in the U.K.

    Cate
     
  6. bjorke

    bjorke Member

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    ...also a big black recent book of his work, which I recently got hold of as a companion to the new Callahan book.

    I have to admit that I'm not particularly fond of his London landscape and blitz stuff, but the portraits are so great (Dylan Thomas - yeow)
     
  7. copake_ham

    copake_ham Inactive

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    I like the Bacon portrait. It looks like it could have been a a cover photo on a 1950's-era jazz album.

    Cool, daddy, cool.... :cool:
     
  8. Claire Senft

    Claire Senft Member

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    To me the photo of the miners is quite effective. For myself the other two photos are spoiled due to my not being able to get past the manner in which they are printed.

    No flame wars please.. just accept it as being my failure not Mr. Brandt's.
     
  9. catem

    catem Member

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    A bit of context for it - (that word's getting difficult to use) - it was taken on Primrose Hill (Regent's Park), very cool and up and coming in the sixties (and arty). Brandt made Bacon walk down the hill several times until he managed to get *the* shot.

    I love the composition - the hill/trees in the background, the line of the path, the way he's disobeying the standard by having the gaslight askew, the subject walking out of the picture. Bacon was (the story goes) getting fed up by this time, but he looks absorbed, not conscious of the photographer at all. I love the way it's printed, very moody.
    Cate
     
  10. catem

    catem Member

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    It is true he had his own very distinctive style. Went to a big retrospective of his work about 2 years ago, all prints by him. In the original they are surprising because they are smaller than you expect, and also if anything even darker than you normally see them. Definitely something you either like or hate, but not best viewed on screen, I feel - you don't get the sense of richness which is such an important part of his work.
    Cate
     
  11. blansky

    blansky Subscriber

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    The askew gaslight for me makes the picture. Everything in this picture seems sort of askew. The size of the subjects head, the printing, the cropping, the mood all seems sort of Hitchcockian, slightly creepy and ......askew.


    Michael
     
  12. Lachlan Young

    Lachlan Young Member

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    Apart from the two great images above check out THIS - a slightly disturbing and strange picture of Peter Sellers who appears to be clutching a bottle of champagne - in Bill Brandt's world nothing is quite as it seems...

    Lachlan
     
  13. catem

    catem Member

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    You just made me think - that could be taken to be a pretty good description of Bacon's work, also? To put it mildly, perhaps (I do very much admire Bacon's work - hard to use the word 'like').
    Cate
     
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  15. David H. Bebbington

    David H. Bebbington Inactive

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    I find it very difficult to say anything about Bill Brandt. On the one hand, he produced a large number of striking images over a long career - I would say that more of Brandt's images are etched into my memory than those of any other photographer, several examples of the "Perspective of the Nude" series, for example, the "Top Withens" (Wuthering Heights) picture, the "Snicket in Halifax" picture (cobblestone ramp), the miner scavenging coal picture already posted here, the Peter Sellers portrait, and many others. At the same time, I feel I don't know Brandt as a person at all. Like most 1930s photographers, he had no qualms about posing pictures, and also driving portrait subjects to the point where they were totally p***ed off - I remember an English photographer Nicholas Sinclair telling how he photographed the actor Paul Schofield who had in turn told how it was to be photographed by BB. He apparently turned up at PS's house with an entourage of assistants, decided he must photograph PC in his conservatory but that his assistants must first remove all the furniture. By the time PS actually was photographed, he was incandescent with rage!

    All this is not to detract in any way from BB's work, but I feel I can only react to individual images, while BB as a whole remains an enigma - which is not a feeling I have about many (if any) other artists.
     
  16. Gay Larson

    Gay Larson Member

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  17. Sparky

    Sparky Member

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    God. That takes me waaayyy back. I was pretty into Brandt when I was 15 or so. I really love that Bacon shot. I really love how heavy-handed folks were with the dodge and burn back then. These days, it would be considered inept. I think what I like about a lot of his work - everybody in all of his work, to one degree or another seem like they're either guilty of something - or they're hiding something.
     
  18. Tony Egan

    Tony Egan Subscriber

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    I also like the East End Girls.... image. A wonderfully evocative image which is a commentary on the British class system and the insights of children. I also like the austere faces and dress of the Parlourmaids Ready to Serve Dinner. I don't know about anyone else but whenever I look at this image all I can see is a young Mick Jagger in the face of the maid on the left!!
     
  19. catem

    catem Member

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    Maybe this is something to do with the fact that he was so good at so many different areas of photography - almost as if he never settled to one particular one, which would make him easier to define.

    I don't mind the way he escapes definition though - it's the strength of his images you're left with. Also at the V&A exhibition I was so enthralled by his work I also watched a video they had of him interviewed - often don't bother with those - and I was struck by what an incredibly nice person he was - very unassuming, very modest about his achievements...He described himself as a jobbing photographer, no more no less (this also explains his diversity)... Interesting connections with Diane Arbus, who could also annoy her subjects (the well-known ones - like Germaine Greer). Perhaps the down-side of working with celebrities, and something to do with their rather large egos?... I don't get the feeling 'ordinary' people found him objectionable.


    I can't help adding that when you see his prints 'inept' is definitely not a word that springs to mind. Also I think his way of working was pretty unique, you can't really describe his style as like it was 'back then', or anywhere.

    Cate
     
  20. Sparky

    Sparky Member

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    Yes, well - hopefully you weren't thinking I was suggesting that. I was thinking of this as more a reflection on our current culture. I think of Brandt as generally being BRILLIANT - however - if you dig deep through these very pages - you'll notice an absolute fear of making such a bold image (tonally speaking). I think there is a lot of insecurity and fear, forcing people to conform to a nearly singular ideal. This is AAs legacy perhaps. I think that imagemaking is a very scary proposition generally - it's like falling into the void of your own pschology. And it's only in contrast to this fog of conformity that the daredevils like Brandt that really stand out.
     
  21. catem

    catem Member

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    I thought these quotes from him were interesting, talking about elements in a photograph that make it 'work' - interesting also in relation to discussion about photographer's intention:


    Leaving out of question the deliberately posed or arranged photograph, it is usually some incidental detail that heightens the effect of a picture - stressing a pattern, deepening the sense of atmosphere. The photographer must be able to recognize instantly such effects..........

    Photography is still a very new medium and everything must be tried and dared... photography has no rules. It is not a sport. It is the result which counts, no matter how it is achieved........

    Sometimes they are a matter of luck; the photographer could not expect or hope for them. Sometimes they are a matter of patience, waiting for an effect to be repeated that he has seen and lost or for one that he anticipates......

    They are often momentary, chance-sent things: a gleam of light on water, a trail of smoke from a passing train, a cat crossing a threshold, the shadows cast by a setting sun....
    Bill Brandt
     
  22. bjorke

    bjorke Member

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    A key reason why I love this shot so much, actually, just as the Dylan Thomas shot echos, in some inscrutable Brandty way, Thomas's works.

    (Not all of Brandt's celeb portraits work well tho, imo they're often over-styled in a way that I don't feel adds to the portrait -- and some subjects, such as Dali & Picasso, probably required something stronger, Brandt's portraits of them seem rather pedestrian. For Robbe-Grillet, Brandt works wonderfully. For Alec Guiness, not so much)
     
  23. catem

    catem Member

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    What do you think of the one of Rene Magritte?

    http://www.robertkleingallery.com/gallery/main.php?g2_itemId=16463

    p.s. I also think the one of Paul Scofield really worked well....
    Cate
     
  24. bjorke

    bjorke Member

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    Something a bit twee about it, don't you think?

    The similar Miro works better for me
     
  25. Jim Chinn

    Jim Chinn Member

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    I have always liked Brandt. the Bacon image is a real masterpiece. The sky, the lamppost and the way the trees mimic his mop of hair.

    I have always liked his nudes. A very similar approach to Kertesz in breaking all the rules. He really stretched the genre with perspective, lighting and printing. Once I compiled a list of my favorite 100 photographs that I would purchase if I ever had the money. This Brandt nude was close to the top of the list.

    http://www.billbrandt.com/Silverprints/Pages/18_1.html

    Totally brilliant in composition, mysterious and erotic at the same time.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Aug 19, 2006
  26. copake_ham

    copake_ham Inactive

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    Tony,

    You are absolutely correct - Mi..lord...it's Mick's mum! :cool: