Bill Brandt/Henry Moore (2)

I have been trying to figure out what Henry Moore would have thought of Bill Brandt when he arrived in his studio in December 1942 to take a photograph for the magazine Lilliput. Brandt was a heavily anglicised German, who claimed to have been born in South London to disguise his Germanness (his father was actually born in London, Brandt in Hamburg). We can guess what Brandt thought of Moore because his photograph was described as ‘ONE OF THE GREATEST ARTISTS OF OUR DAY’. But what did Moore make of the tall, thin, shy, rather etiolated, diabetic photographer, who spoke with a slight German accent (‘a voice as loud as a moth’), and had photographed Yorkshire coal miners with the detached eye of an ethnographer ? He’s unlikely to have thought of him as an artist, but nor yet as a straightforward magazine photographer. Geoffrey Grigson who probably knew them both writes of Moore, ‘His face puts on a solid rockiness or woodenness in front of lenses, and becomes a piece of sculpture not carved by himself’. Maybe, he didn’t really pay attention to Brandt, in spite of their common interests.

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