The Handmade Bill Brandt: a closer look at some his printed works

In my article on Bill Brandt (below) I made reference to the different way that his prints have been shown in books of his work, and also hinted at how his original prints were made .

The difference in the way his work has been presented in books, is perhaps the most overlooked aspect of the way successive generations have seen this master photographers work.

To illustrate this fact, I've scanned pages from a sample of major publications of his work in which the same images appear.

Note that the reading of the contrasts between black and white and the range of greys have a dramatic effect on how his images are 'felt'.

Arts Council of Great Britain, 1975

London: Gordon Fraser, 1977

I also referred in my article to the extent to which Brandt 'worked' his prints to create a kind of expressive reality.

Although this is something often best seen in his original prints (if you get a chance to see them) there is also ample evidence in books on his work. Perhaps nowhere is this more clearly seen than in the later series of nudes he produced on Britain's southern coast.

Look carefully at the image below and you'll see in the first image, very faint lines drawn in re-touching ink around the eyelids and (barely) on the underside of the arm above the breast.

Then look at the same image from a book on his nudes published only a few years later. Chalk & cheese.  Not only is the image richer in tone, exhibiting subtle gradations of grey around the arm, in effect helping to model it but also there are darker modelling around the eye.

But what as a viewer you can't help notice are the grey lines around the eyes. The line underneath her arm, subtle in the first image is crystal clear and very definitely hand made. As is the crease/fold in her bent arm.

Absolutely fascinating evidence of the way in which Brandt produced work that was evidently and deliberately hand made. 

London: Gordon Fraser, 1977

Gordon Fraser, 1980

Another image from the same book. Note the hand drawn creases on the left & right buttocks of this nude.

All photographs are copyright their respective copyright owners.
Text is copyright Nick Lloyd.
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