Bill Brandt Related Photographers
A major influence on Brandt was Man Ray (American, 1890-1976). One can point to Man Ray's use of extreme grain for graphic effect in some of his nudes, which Brandt was later to utilise in his own nude series. Man Ray used radical cropping in a way that Brandt also emulated. More than these technical borrowings, Brandt was clearly influenced by Man Ray's belief that in photography the end justifies any means that a photographer chooses to use.
The other Parisian master to whom Brandt was closest was Brassaï (French, born Transylvania, 1899-1984). Brandt admired and was friends with Brassaï. Both were masters of night photography. Brandt’s A Night in London (1938) was based on Brassaï’s Paris de Nuit (1933). Brandt's 1933 photograph of his wife Eva pretending to be a prostitute in St Pauli, the red-light district of Hamburg, closely emulates a similar scene in Brassaï's book of the same year. Brandt contributed to the same magazines as Brassaï, such as Minotaure and Verve in Paris and Picture Post and Lilliput in London. Brandt also seems to have been influenced by Brassaï's nudes.
Brandt probably owed an artistic debt to his younger brother R.A. (Rolf) Brandt (1906-86), to whom he was always close. As boys they both learned drawing at the Kunstgewerbeschule in Hamburg from a Czech architect named Karl Ort. Rolf later attended the Bauhaus at Dessau. In Berlin in the late 1920s and early 1930s Rolf Brandt created several albums of collages. One of these has been donated to the V&A by Ester Cotton.
The Rolf Brandt album features in Other Sides of Bill Brandt in the V&A Photography Gallery, 24 March - 25 July 2004.
The collages show Rolf's playful attitude to the imagery that was published in the new photographically illustrated magazines of the time, such as Der Querschnitt (to which Brandt contributed photographs). Bill Brandt was also a collage artist, both in photography (see the Working Methods section) and, later in life, as a maker of collages out of beach-combed objets trouvés. These were published as Bill Brandt: The Assemblages (Kyoto ARM, Kyoto Shoin 1993).
Although he was technically very different from Edward Weston (American, 1886-1958), Brandt deeply admired him. The emphatic rhythmic shadows characteristic of Weston's dune photographs from the 1930s may have played an important role in Brandt's deeply shadowed landscapes of Literary Britain during the 1940s.
Brandt influenced many distinguished British photographers of the last half of the 20th century - such as Roger Mayne, Nigel Henderson, Don McCullin, David Bailey and Chris Killip.