Wednesday, 6 June 2018

Exercise: Bill Brandt’s Art of the Document’ by David Campany

This exercise is to read David Campany's article on Bill Brandt to leave comments and also comment on why Black & White has become so respected in documentary.

I was not aware of Bill Brandt before reading this article, I was though reassured that he was a distinguished photographer of documentary in his earlier life. Being German and coming to England would have amused him to see our strange social culture and how we stand within it. Being from a wealthy background gave him the opportunity to exploit this - Campany cites that many of the images would have had great forethought and staging.

Nonetheless Brandt's book "The English at Home" has some brilliant contrasting images that certainly do call out the social divide and the oddities of such a social system. A divide that Campany calls out "is not ready to be received". The book at the time of publishing was not a success, but like so many works ahead of its age it gets recognised in the future.

It is right that this work is finally attributed with the word Art and is recognised  as a piece of documentary calling out the social divide of the time. I sometimes wonder if this enigma ever leaves us. Are we not now still searching for information on those at the top of the social scale, the rich, the famous, the royals, the celebrities.... this divide never leaves us it just morphs from one for to another.

In his later life Brandt turned to more "artistic" images of the body and landscapes and carried on with B&W photography. Here he captures the body of the landscape alongside the landscape of the body; the two mixing well. Strong tones and contrast are used here to great effect to draw clearer lines of distinction which would not have worked in any other way. B&W is an intrinsic part of this art form.

It is no winder that many documentary photographers prefer B&W. Although less information is presented it also draws the viewer deeper into the image, examining in detail the artefacts that are sometimes overlooked.

No comments:

Post a Comment