From the 1930’s into the 1960’s, Bill Brandt virtually was photography in Great Britain. He photographed throughout England, from the moors and coal regions in the north to London in the south. He documented all levels of the British class system; the working (and non-working) poor, the middle-class, the idle rich and their servants. He made portraits of important artists, writers, royalty and cultural figures, from both Britain and the continent, and of people sleeping in the Underground during the Blitz. Add collage, still life and the nude figure to that, and you have, to say the very least, a well-rounded career and a substantial archive.
Perhaps because Brandt’s work so effortlessly crosses the boundary between ‘documentary’ and ‘fine art’, and because his photographs are compositionally elemental and stylistically punchy, they have been much used on book covers. KB