Billy Brandt, Henry Moore and London’s Great Theatres

Billy Brandt, Henry Moore and London’s Great Theatres

Robert Tanitch reviews two books

Billy Brandt | Henry Moore edited by Martina Droth and Paul Messier (Yale University Press £50)

The sculpture, drawings, photographs and prints, first seen in Picture Post and Life, are from two great artists, Billy Brandt, photographer, and Henry Moore, sculptor. They were brought together together to record civilians during World War 2 sheltering from the Blitz in the dark and claustrophobic underground stations. These haunting, striking, iconic images – the piles of bodies, surreal, macabre, timeless – are powerful symbols of resilience.

Pre- and post-war, there are dark grim images of the coalmines and coalminers and stark ancient sites in raw winter landscapes. The progressive stages of Moore’s Reclining Woman are a reminder of the importance of photography in Moore’s creative process.

Natural formats are refracted into modern sculpture and body parts are interchanged with rocks, pebbles, skulls and bones. Every block of stone has a sculpture in it. The excellent illustrations and the detailed commentary have an instant impact.

The book’s publication coincides with an exhibition which can be seen at The Hepworth, Wakefield, Yorkshire from February 7 to May 31.

London’s Great Theatres by Simon Callow and Derry Moore (Prestel £29.99)

One of the things I am often asked by friends to do is to name my favourite theatre. It’s like being asked which my favourite play is. It’s impossible. There are so many. When I was a young theatregoer I always bought ticket in the gods so that I could go more often. The theatres I went to most were the Old Vic and Theatre Royal Haymarket, which under HM Tennent was a National Theatre in all but name and where you could see the best theatre and classic plays. I remember being gobsmacked the very first time I went to Covent Garden.

Simon Callow, famed actor and author of outstanding biographies of Orson Welles and Charles Laughton, loves the theatre and that love is obvious in every chapter. He writes interestingly about 27 theatres and at length on Theatre Royal, Drury Lane, Sadler’s Wells and Royal Opera House. Photographer Derry Moore views the interiors often from angles the public do not have access to. This is a really nice and attractive souvenir for regular theatregoers who enjoy theatre architecture and theatrical anecdotes.

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