“The camera,” said Orson Welles, “is much more than a recording apparatus, it is a medium via which messages reach us from another world.” It was the camera, and the political and cultural circumstances of picture-making during the Second World War, that first brought Bill Brandt and Henry Moore together. During the Blitz, these two artists—a German and an Englishman—each produced images depicting people sheltering in the London Underground. These “shelter pictures” were circulated to millions in the form of photographic reproductions on the pages of magazines. Today they rank among the most iconic works of the period.
This exhibition will begin with these wartime works, setting their production within the visual culture of the war, and will examine the parallel and intersecting paths of the artists through the postwar period. Key themes will include war, industry, and coal mining; urban space, living conditions, and family life; landscape and the great megalithic sites of Britain; and found objects, fragments of nature, and the human body.
Bill Brandt | Henry Moore is curated by Martina Droth, Deputy Director of Research, Exhibitions and Publications, and Curator of Sculpture at the Center. The exhibition will open at The Hepworth Wakefield (February 7–May 3, 2020) before traveling to the Yale Center for British Art and finally the Sainsbury Centre for Visual Art, Norwich (November 22, 2020–February 28, 2021).
A fully illustrated catalogue, edited by Droth and Paul Messier, the Pritzker Director of the Lens Media Lab at the Yale Institute for the Preservation of Cultural Heritage, will accompany the exhibition.