Tuesday, April 13, 2004

Nonspecifically unsettling:Bill Brandt: a centenary retrospective, Victoria and Albert Museum, London

A speed viewing of these photos. Obviously interested in the posed depiction of the working class in the 30s, and it appealed to my general like of the gelatin b&w photograph. Two or three prints struck me in particular - one was the portrait of a young girl in Belgravia, an unsettling close-up of the side of a young girls head looking upwards. In the background there is space: it's a sparse but expensive room, and there are large curtained windows looking out. The detail on the girl's face is so fine you can almost feel her breathing. (Though is her breathing shallow?) She looks up and we don't know what/who it is she's looking at. Her eyes and expression only just teeter on the edge of anxiety. The portrait is altogether unsettling in a very nonspecific way.

The other two photographs I liked were for fairly bland reasons - one of Barbara Hepworth almost muscially 'playing' one of her stringed sculptures: she is literally engulfed by her work. The other was of a pair of intertwined hands on a beach (in Normandy?) - sculptural and loving.


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