Bill Brandt, ‘East Sussex Coast’, 1957, Phillips

An Influential Vision: The Collection of Ruth Ansel

From the Catalogue:
Ruth Ansel was first introduced to Bill Brandt’s work through early issues of Harper’s Bazaar, where he regularly contributed stunning, often surreal images. Lots 131-136, including the very rare Self Portrait, circa 1966, were contributed by Brandt, for potential inclusion in his The Enchanted Third Eye feature spread published in November 1966. Images offered in lots 135 and 134 of the renowned artists Jean Dubuffet and Joan Miró in their studios were similarly produced for spotlights on the artists, with only a select few printed in the final magazine stories. Recalls Ansel:

"When I first went through the fascinating bound volumes of Harper’s Bazaar from the 30’s and 40’s, I discovered the brilliant photographic work of Cartier-Bresson, Man Ray and Bill Brandt. Their inventive work was published side by side with the fashion photographs of Munkácsi, Horst and a young Avedon. It was all part of the visual landscape at Harper’s. This was a tradition started by the great Alexey Brodovitch and taken up by myself, and Bea Feitler.

"I immediately fell in love with Bill Brandt’s inky black photographs with a depth of field that brought everything into focus from back to front,” Ansel says. “Bill could photograph any subject we assigned him. He always sent back perfect choices, whether it be a Palladian Villa, a nude on the beach or portraits of a writer or artist. His images, once seen, were unforgettable."
Courtesy of Phillips

Abrams, Brandt: The Photography of Bill Brandt, pl. 254
Aperture, Bill Brandt: Behind the Camera, p. 63
Connolly and Haworth-Booth, Bill Brandt: Shadow of Light, pl. 139
Jeffrey, Bill Brandt: Photographs 1928-1983, p. 175
Photo Poche, Bill Brandt, pl. 59

Directly from the artist

About Bill Brandt

Throughout a career that encompassed a wide variety of subjects and printing styles, British photographer Bill Brandt enabled viewers to see the world with, as he put it, “a sense of wonder.” He began his career as an assistant to Man Ray in Paris, where he discovered the work of Eugène Atget and Hungarian photographer Brassaï. Upon returning to England, he became known for his incisive documentary work, including his landmark series “The English at Home”, and, later, revealing images of London under siege during the Blitz of WWII. After the war, he turned his focus to the human body, using unusual perspectives to transform flesh into abstract landscapes. Unlike his famous contemporaries like Henri Cartier-Bresson, Brandt experimented freely with artificial light, cropping, and photomontage. “Photography is not a sport,” he said. “It has no rules. Everything must be dared and tried.”

British, b. Germany, 1904-1983, Hamburg, Germany