Bill Brandt  German 1904-1983

Bill Brandt was born in Hamburg 1904 to an English father and a German mother. Brandt was bullied at school after the First World War, this and the rise of Nazism caused him to disown his German background.

Brandt took up photography as an amateur enthusiast. In 1927 he travelled to Vienna, where he found a position in a portrait studio. He was introduced him to the American poet Ezra Pound. Pound apparently gave Brandt a  valuable introduction to Man Ray. Brandt assisted Man Ray in Paris for several months in 1930. Here he witnessed the heyday of Surrealist film and grasped the new possibilities of photography. Some of his early photographs are modelled on works by the French photographer Eugène Atget (1857-1927) who made a living selling his photographs, mainly of old Paris, to painters, designers and libraries. Other early Brandt photographs experiment with angular modernist styles and night photography

In the 1930s he was taken up by Man Ray and other Surrealists as a major photographer in his own right.

He travelled in continental Europe with Eva Boros, whom he had met in the Vienna portrait studio. They married in Barcelona in 1932.

In 1934 he and his wife settled in Belsize Park, north London. Brandt adopted Britain as his home and it became the subject of his greatest photographs.

Brandt  began to work as a photojournalist for the Lilliput (1937) and Picture Post (1938). The majority of Brandt’s earliest English photographs were first published in Brandt’s The English at Home (1936).

After the London Blitz began, Brandt was commissioned to record bomb shelters by the Ministry of Information. His photographs were sent to Washington as part of the British government’s attempt to bring the US into the war on the allied side. After the war, in his later years, Brandt taught Royal College of Art and continued to accept commissions for portraits. He died after a short illness in 1983.

x Close


All Art