“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 circumstances of the Second World War that first brought photographer Bill Brandt (1904–1983) and sculptor Henry Moore (1898–1986) together. During the Blitz, both artists produced haunting images depicting civilians sheltering in the London Underground. These “shelter pictures” were circulated to millions via popular magazines and today they rank among the iconic works in the artists’ oeuvres.
The book begins with these powerful wartime works and examines the artists’ intersecting paths in the postwar period. Key themes include war, industry, and the coal mine; landscape and Britain’s great megalithic sites; found objects; and the human body. The book places sculptures, drawings, and photographic prints on equal footing with newsprint, negatives, contact sheets, cutouts, and unfinished experiments in collage. Special photographic reproductions vividly capture the materiality of photographs as singular three-dimensional objects. These striking images are shown alongside illustrations from popular period magazines, such as Life and Picture Post, which convey with tactile immediacy a period of turmoil and change.
Martina Droth is Deputy Director of Research, Exhibitions and Publications, and Curator of Sculpture at the Yale Center for British Art. Paul Messier is Pritzker Director of the Lens Media Lab at the Yale Institute for the Preservation of Cultural Heritage.