Bill Brandt | Henry Moore: 3 December 2020 – 7 March 2021
Sainsbury Centre, Norwich
This major exhibition traces the parallel and intersecting careers of two leading artists of the 20th century. The photographer Bill Brandt (1904–1983) and sculptor Henry Moore (1898–1986) first crossed paths during the Second World War, when they created images of civilians sheltering in the London Underground during the Blitz. These photographs by Brandt and drawings by Moore today rank among their most iconic works.
The exhibition is organised by the Yale Center for British Art in partnership with The Hepworth Wakefield and is curated by Martina Droth, Deputy Director of Research, Exhibitions and Publications, and Curator of Sculpture at the Yale Center for British Art. The exhibition brings together almost 200 works including significant sculpture, iconic photographs and drawings, little-known photo collages and rare original colour transparencies. Bill Brandt | Henry Moore reveals the interdisciplinary range of these two artists, exploring how they both responded creatively to the British landscape and communities during the turbulent times in which they lived.
The exhibition opens with the moment the artists met in 1942 when Brandt photographed Moore in his studio to accompany a 10-page spread in Lilliput magazine, which juxtaposed the two artists’ shelter images for the first time. Both artists were often drawn to similar subjects. During the Second World War, there was a focus on ordinary people, the home and labour. Their images of coal miners and their families reflect social deprivation, yet an optimistic view in the case of Moore.
In contrast with the densely populated, often claustrophobic, urban subjects explored during the war, Brandt and Moore both later turned to nature and the light-filled open landscape as a primary source of inspiration. A significant section of the exhibition looks at their enduring interest in rock formations, geological artefacts, and megalithic sites, such as Stonehenge.
Ghislaine Wood, Acting Director of the Sainsbury Centre said: “Henry Moore is a crucial artist in our collection, and we are delighted to be able to show his work in a new light through its presentation alongside Bill Brandt, one of the most important photographers of the 20th century. This exhibition demonstrates how Henry Moore, often known as a sculptor, worked across media, including collage and photography, and how Brandt — through photography — presented the landscape and body as acutely sculptural.”
The exhibition is accompanied by a major new book published by the Yale Center for British Art in association with Yale University Press. The book takes an unusual approach to the reproduction of photographic works, capturing the materiality of the print as a singular, three-dimensional object rather than a flattened image on the page.