Let There Be Dark

A look inside Bill Brandt's book of shadows

Bill Brandt /2012 Bill Brandt Archive Ltd./MOMA

Henri Matisse, who knew something about color, had a wary regard for one in particular. "Black," he said, "is a force." Spend time at "Bill Brandt: Shadow and Light," the voluptuous retrospective organized by curator Sarah Hermanson Meister at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City (through Aug. 12) and you'll find out just how powerful a force it can be. In Brandt's inky photographs, the sky can be a tar pit. Lovers in an illicit room can take on the gray scale and density of anthracite. Darkness has more than an aesthetic appeal for Brandt. For him, its...

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