Note From dimanche: The dimanche girl looks to Brandt’s work for inspiration for both her photography and her relationship with her body. His innovative work plays with negative space and shows her that there's beauty in every angle.
IN THE MOOD FOR
Bill Brandt was a highly versatile photographer who worked in both photojournalism and fine art. While his photographs of living conditions in England were remarkable, his post-war, surrealist experiments caught our attention while we entrenched in the conception of our space issue. Brandt transforms space with his camera lens, distorting and warping the female body into an abstract object of beauty. His photography is a masterclass in understanding perspective and space in photography, and provides the dimanche girl with an important reference point in her understanding of 20th century art.
He started his career under the tutelage of photographer Man Ray, who introduced Brandt to surrealist techniques and photographic modernism. Working in Paris in the 1920s, Brandt was surrounded by artists and creators like Ezra Pound and Eugène Atget.
Taking a break from surrealism, Brandt returned to London in the 1930s. During this time, he focused on photojournalism, covering the difficult lives of England’s poorest and the outbreak of World War II. Brandt dedicated himself to both art and public service, as he worked with the Ministry of Information to document bomb shelters and fallen buildings.
Brandt’s exploration of nudes began in 1945; a celebration of the end of the war and a drastic turn towards beauty for a photographer versed in images of war. These images were an homage to his surrealist past and a step further towards the avant-garde. Using the female body as a muse, Brandt used a box camera played with wide angle lenses, isolated body parts, and off-kitler angles to create landscapes and portraits.
The haunting black and white images, often keeping the model’s face out of frame, force viewers to look closely at each element of the body. This almost dehumanizing effect transforms the body into a work of art, focusing not on sexuality but on the lines and curves created by the body’s interaction with the space around it. Brandt’s time spent in Paris becomes apparent here, seen through his experimentation with surrealism. In addition to the nudes, Brandt’s body of work includes portraits of surrealist icons including Salvador Dali, Cecil Beaton, Henry Moore, Rene Magritte, Francis Bacon, and Joan Miro.
Brandt’s book Perspective of Nudes, a collection of his finest work, makes an important addition to the dimanche girl’s bookshelf. She turns to it to find insight and inspiration for her own creative process, as it urges her to look at everything from an unexpected angle.
Surrealist photography | b. 1904-1983 | Influenced by Man Ray | Shot with a box camera
Words by Elena Scott