• 31 January 2020
  • 1:00 – 2:00 pm
  • Paul Mellon Centre

Bill Brandt and Henry Moore were first brought together by the circumstances of the Second World War, when both supplied the government with images that responded to the urgency of the times. A major new book and exhibition examine the intersecting paths of these two artists during the war and post-war era. In it, Brandt is revealed as a photographer attuned to the vitality of sculpture and the plastic potential of landscape and the body; Moore is shown to be a sculptor, draftsman, and collage artist who made a serious commitment to photography as a creative medium. Both artists were deeply engaged with the materiality of their media, seeking depth and dimensionality even in the seemingly flat surfaces of paper.

Front cover of Picture Post that reads 'Where Stands Britain' with a photo of stonehenge In this talk, curator Martina Droth and photograph-conservator Paul Messier explore the ways in which the distinctive expressive goals of Bill Brandt and Henry Moore came together through the mechanical reproducibility of photography. Going behind the scenes of their project, they discuss the objectives and challenges involved in creating a book that captures the material nuances of sculpture and photography side by side.

Martina Droth and Paul Messier are the editors of Bill Brandt | Henry Moore, published by the Yale Center for British Art. The book accompanies the exhibition at The Hepworth Wakefield (7 February–3 May, 2020), the Yale Center for British Art (25 June–13 September, 2020) and the Sainsbury Centre (22 November, 2020–28 February, 2021).

Image: “Where Stands Britain?,” Picture Post, April 19, 1947, cover, Yale Center for British Art, Friends of British Art, original copyright: Picture Post, text © 2019 Reach PLC, © Bill Brandt/Bill Brandt Archive Ltd.

About the speakers

  • Martina Droth

    Martina Droth is Deputy Director of Research, Exhibitions and Publications, and Curator of Sculpture at the Yale Center for British Art, New Haven. She is the Chair of the Association of Research Institutes in Art History and co-editor of the peer-reviewed online journal British Art Studies. Her research focuses on sculpture with an emphasis on interdisciplinary practice. Current and recent curatorial projects include: Bill Brandt | Henry Moore (The Hepworth, YCBA, and Sainsbury Centre, 2020—2021); Things of Beauty Growing: British Studio Pottery (YCBA and Fitzwilliam Museum, 2017—2018); Sculpture Victorious: Art in an Age of Invention, 1837-1901 (YCBA and Tate Britain, 2014—2015); and Caro: Close Up (YCBA, 2012). Prior to joining the Center, she was at the Henry Moore Institute where her exhibitions included Taking Shape: Finding Sculpture in the Decorative Arts (HMI and John Paul Getty Museum, 2008—2009) and Bronze: The Power of Life and Death (HMI, 2005). Her forthcoming projects include an exhibition of works by Hew Locke.


  • Paul Messier

    Paul Messier is the Chair of Yale’s Institute for the Preservation of Cultural Heritage and Pritzker Director of the IPCH Lens Media Lab. Established in 2015, the LML focuses on collection-scale analysis and interpretation of artist materials. This work is grounded by LML’s collection of historic photographic paper – assembled by Paul over decades, this archive is the largest of its kind in the world. He has published widely, holds two patents for cultural materials characterization, and recently directed an initiative to establish a department of photograph conservation at the State Hermitage Museum in Saint Petersburg, Russia. In 1999, his research exposed the largest authenticity scandal in the photography market. Paul is the 2017 recipient of the New England Beacon Award from the Griffin Museum of Photography and is the 2018 recipient of the Award for Distinction in Scholarship and Conservation jointly presented by the College Art Association and the American Institute for Conservation.