Exhibition – Bill Brandt | Henry Moore (The Hepworth Wakefield)

Exhibition, The Hepworth Wakefield, 1st August – 1st November 2020
Bill Brandt | Henry Moore

Header image: Bill Brandt, Henry Moore, 1948, gelatine silver print, Hyman Collection London © Bill Brandt / Bill Brandt Archive Ltd – reproduced by permission of The Henry Moore Foundation

Photographer Bill Brandt (1904-1983) and sculptor Henry Moore (1898-1986) first met during the Second World War, when they were commissioned by the UK government to create images of civilians sheltering from the bombings of Blitz in the London Underground. Over 50 years later, this initial link forms the basis of an exhibition currently housed at The Hepworth Wakefield, newly reopened since the weekend.

The Hepworth Wakefield © Hufton & Crow

Bill Brandt is recognised as one of the masters of 20th century photography, his work ranging from social documentary to surrealism. His role as staff photographer for the Home Office brought him to the wartime role – he had already been capturing life in the capital for some years, contributing to magazines and publishing two books, The English at Home (1936) and A Night in London (1938). His later work included distorted nudes, portraits and landscapes.

Bill Brandt, Nude, East Sussex Coast, gelatine silver print, 1960,
Bill Brandt Archive London © Bill Brandt / Bill Brandt Archive Ltd

In the 1940s, Henry Moore was commissioned by the War Artists’ Advisory Committee to produce illustrations  of the work being carried out in collieries where the ‘Bevin Boys’ were conscripted to mine for the coal used to fuel armaments factories. The style of these drawings and those that he made of the mass air raid shelters are very similar, using wax crayon, watercolour, pen and ink. Better known for his monumental brass sculpted forms, Moore went on to become one of the best known names in sculpture, his influence still strong amongst many successors.

Henry Moore, Two Piece Reclining Figure No 4, 1961, bronze
The Hepworth Wakefield (Wakefield Permanent Art Collection)
Photo © Jonte Wilde

The exhibition charts the journey of both artists as their paths continued to cross over the years. Further details from the press release below:

‘Organised in partnership with the Yale Center for British Art, the exhibition will bring together over 200 works including major sculptures, iconic photographs, drawings, little-known photo collages, unprinted negatives and rare original colour transparencies. Bill Brandt | Henry Moore will reveal 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 will open with the moment the artists met in 1942 when Brandt photographed Moore in his studio to accompany a 10-page spread in Lilliput magazine juxtaposing the two artists’ shelter pictures. Brandt was a regular contributor as a photojournalist to Lilliput, a magazine known for its innovative photographic features, and this issue was the first time the two artists’ work was shown side-by-side.

Both artists were often drawn to similar subjects – leading up to and during the Second World War, there was a focus on ordinary people, the home and labour. Brandt’s bleakly evocative photographs of impoverished mining communities and families in the North of England taken in the late 1930s reflect social deprivation. Moore’s later sketches documenting the civilian war effort at his father’s colliery in his home-town of Castleford, although similar in theme, present a more optimistic view…

Henry Moore, Pit Boys at Pit Head, 1942,
pencil, pen, ink, wax coloured crayon & watercolour wash
The Hepworth Wakefield (Wakefield Permanent Art Collection)

The exhibition will reveal the important relationship for both artists between 2D images and 3D objects. Moore will be presented as a sculptor and draftsman who made a serious commitment to photography both as a creative medium and a means of presenting his work. On display will be little-known photographs of his sculptures, drawn on and collaged together to develop new ideas for future sculpture. Brandt will be revealed as a photographer who looked to sculpture as a subject and as a way of considering nature, landscape, and the human body, as exemplified by a series of rare colour transparencies of sculptural rock formations on the beach.

Bill Brandt |Henry Moore will also examine the complicated relationship between pictures and objects, between ‘primary’ works of art and ‘secondary’ published images used as an important means of disseminating their work to a wide public, and the material nature of the printed photograph.’

Bill Brandt | Henry Moore runs at The Hepworth Wakefield from 1st August – 1st November 2020, after which it will move to Sainsbury Centre, Norwich from 21st November 2020 – 28th February 2021. The exhibition is supported by The Henry Moore Foundation, Hiscox and The Hepworth Wakefield Contemporary Circle.

Social distancing means that numbers in the gallery at any one time will be limited and this may result in short waits during busy times. No cash payments are currently being accepted and booking is advisable; please check the website for updates before visiting and if you are feeling unwell please stay at home.

The Hepworth Wakefield, Gallery Walk, Wakefield, West Yorkshire WF1 5AW 
Opening times are currently restricted to Wed – Sun 10am – 5pm
Tickets £7.50 / £5 / free for Members, Wakefield residents and under 16s; various permanent exhibitions and the gallery gardens are open free of charge

Sir Michael Craig- Martin, Pitchfork (Yellow), 2013
on display in The Hepworth Wakefield Garden
Photo © Nick Singleton

All images and exhibition details are reproduced with permission from The Hepworth Wakefield and are copyrighted / owned as credited

Intro by Siobhan

4th August 2020