Bill Brandt

03.JUN.2021           29.AUG.2021

Bill Brandt in Madrid

Bill Brandt
Río Cuckmere, 1963
Private Collection. Courtesy of the Bill Brandt Archive and the Edwynn Houk Gallery.
© Bill Brandt / Bill Brandt Archive Ltd.



03.JUN.2021         29.AUG.2021


Recoletos Exhibition Hall
Paseo Recoletos 23, 28004 Madrid

Tel: 915 81 61 00

Opening hours:
Mondays (except holidays): 2 pm – 8 pm
Tuesday to Saturday: 11 am – 8 pm
Sunday and holidays: 11 am – 7 pm

December 25th, January 1st and 6th

Limited opening hours:
December 24th and 31th, January 5th: 11 am – 3 pm

*The evacuation of the hall starts 10 minutes before closing time. Last access (7:30 pm or 6:30 pm) only allows a 20 minutes tour to the exhibitions.

How to arrive

Buses: 5 – 14 – 27 – 37 – 45 – 53 – 150

Subway: Line 4 (Colón), line 2 (Banco de España) and line 5 (Chueca)

Trains: C-2, C-7, C-8 and C-10


Available online in Spanish and English. Accessible via mobile without downloads or installations.

Also available in audio device obtainable in the hall (if available).

Price: €4


Ramp for wheelchair access – The three floors of the hall are accessed by a generously-sized elevator.


Locker Service: Temporarily unavailable.


LAIE Tel. 911 703 851

An apprentice in Man Ray’s studio and influenced in his origins by artists such as Brassaï, André Kertész or Eugène Atget, Bill Brandt (Hamburg, 1904-London, 1983), one of the founders of modern photography, conceived the language of photography as a powerful means of contemplating and understanding reality, but always from a primacy of aesthetic considerations over documentary ones. Published in the press or in books, some of his photographs quickly became iconic pieces, indispensable for understanding mid-century English society.

His work also expresses a permanent attraction to everything strange, to everything that causes attraction such as strangeness and provokes unease. His aesthetics are thus close to the concept of “the sinister”, understood as the opposite of anything familiar, or the usual. This element will act as a plot line for a professional and artistic production that, at first, seems erratic and dispersed.

His latest work shows a more experimental approach, a search for innovation through cutting and framing, evident above all in nude images.

Curator: Ramón Esparza (University of the Basque Country).

Buy tickets

Bill Brandt

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PLUS Ticket

  • TICKET and AUDIO GUIDE for Bill Brandt, Miró Poema and Espacio Miró. The audio guide is accessible online, from the Smartphone, without downloads or installations. An audio device can also be requested in the room (if available).
  • For Miró Poema, the audio guide includes an unique content: ten poems on the works on display, written expressly for the exhibition by relevant Spanish and Latin American poets (Luisa Castro, Alberto Chessa, Antonio Colinas, Miquel de Palol, Olvido García Valdés , Darío Jaramillo, Sandra Lorenzano, Juan Carlos Mestre, Julia Piera and Cristina Peri Rossi) in their own voices.
  • Price: General PLUS: €9. Reduced PLUS: €7. Mondays (except holidays): €4.
  • Don’t forget to bring your headphones!

Guided Tour

  • In a tour of approximately one hour, our cultural mediators comment on the main works of the exhibition. Price: 7€. The ticket also allows to visit Miró Poema and the Espacio Miró.
  • Hours: Wednesdays: 6 pm - Thursdays: 1 pm and 6 pm. By current health prevention regulations, each group will be made up of a maximum of 5 visitors, plus the guide.
  • Prior reservation is required by writing to:

Individual Ticket

  • Access to Bill Brandt, Miró Poema and Espacio Miró.
  • General admission: €5. Reduced ticket beneficiaries: €3.
  • Free Access (0€): mondays except holidays, from 2 pm to 8 pm.

The beneficiaries of free admission must obtain their ticket at the ticket office in the room.

MAPFRE Clients MAPFRE and Collaborating Entities

  • MAPFRE policyholders have 2 free tickets for these exhibitions. If you're accessing for the first time, check out these simple guidelines.
  • If you belong to any of the entities that collaborate with Fundación MAPFRE, you must obtain your reduced ticket (€ 1) at the ticket office in the room.


  • If you have already purchased a ticket and want to add the audio guide, you can purchase it individually. Price: 4 €
  • For Miró Poema, the audio guide includes an unique content: ten poems on the works on display, written expressly for the exhibition by relevant Spanish and Latin American poets: Luisa Castro, Alberto Chessa, Antonio Colinas, Miquel de Palol, Olvido García Valdés , Darío Jaramillo, Sandra Lorenzano, Juan Carlos Mestre, Julia Piera and Cristina Peri Rossi.
  • Don't forget to bring your headphones!



  • It's mandatory for the group to have a guide or person in charge. To request a guide from the Foundation, ask please for information and rates to:
  • The group must be made up of a minimum of 6 people. Currently, and due to health prevention measures, the maximum number of members (guide included) is also 6 pax.
  • Hours:
    • Tuesdays: 11 am - 11:30 am - 12 pm - 4 pm - 4:30 pm - 5 pm
  • Maximum duration of the visit: 60 min.
  • It's mandatory for the group to make the tour with the support of an audio-guiding system.
  • The formalization of the reservation implies the acceptance of these Rules for external groups.



As part of health protection measures, Educational Activities for schools are temporarily suspended.


As part of health protection measures, Educational Activities for families are temporarily suspended.


  • All tickets allow access to all three exhibitions.
  • Tickets changes or returns are not allowed except for justified force majeure.
  • Reduced capacity for health prevention. Get your ticket at the online box office from here to avoid waiting.

The exhibition brings together 186 photographs that were developed by Bill Brandt himself, who over almost five decades of his career never ceased to address any of the main genres of the photographic disciplines: social documentary, portrait, nude and landscape.

The tour, divided into six sections (“First Photographs”, “Up and Down”, “Portraits”, “Landscapes Described”, “Nudes” and “In Praise of Imperfection”), tries to show how all these aspects – in which identity and the concept of “the sinister” become protagonists – converge in the work of this eclectic artist who was considered, above all, a flâneur, a “stroller” in terms similar to those of his admired Eugène Atget, whom he always considered one of his masters. One hundred and eighty-six photographs are complemented by writings, some of his cameras and various documents, (including an interview he gave to the BBC soon before his death) , as well as illustrated publications of the time. All thanks to the courtesy of the Bill Brandt Archive in London and the Edwynn Houk Gallery in New York.

Download the exhibition leaflet (10 MB)

Download the exhibition captions and posters (7 MB)

Surrealist beginnings: after beginning his adventure into photography in Vienna, where in 1928 he produced the famous portrait of the poet Ezra Pound, Bill Brandt went to Paris to work as an assistant, for a short period of time, in Man Ray’s studio, which prompted him to mingle with the surrealist atmosphere of the French capital, which would permeate all his work thereafter. This influence, together with that of his admired Eugène Atget, the photographer who documented “the old Paris” and of whom Fundación MAPFRE also organized an exhibition in 2011, led to images where the disturbing was already present: street scenes and the Parisian night are some of the most frequent messages in the artist’s images during this period.

Concealing everything German: together with his partner and future wife, Eva Boros, he also took several trips to the Hungarian steppe, to his native Hamburg and to Spain, where they visited Madrid and Barcelona, before moving to London in 1934. In this city Brandt shed his German roots, eliminating all reference to them, a concealment due to the growing animosity towards all things German that followed the rise of Nazism. Brandt invented a British birth, creating an artistic corpus in which the United Kingdom is placed as the core of his identity.

The portrait: after producing several portraits at the beginning of his career, starting in the nineteen forties -period in which he worked for magazines such as Picture Post, Liliput and Harper’s Bazaar-, Bill Brandt now approaches this genre in a professional way. Some of them represented a break away from tradition, such as those published in Lilliput in 1941, illustrating the article “Young Poets of Democracy,” which included some of the most representative faces of the writers and poets of the Auden Generation.

In praise of imperfection: in his introduction to Camera in London, the book about the British capital published in 1948, Bill Brandt noted: “I consider it essential for photographers to make their own copies and enlargements. The final effect of the image greatly depends on these procedures, and only the photographer knows the intention”. For the artist, laboratory work was fundamental and, early in his career, he learned an array of craft techniques: from magnification to enlargement, the use of brushes, scrapers or other tools. These manual finishing touches sometimes gave his photographs that somewhat crude appearance that can be associated with the Freudian concept of the “unheimlich”: all things sinister.

We invite you to delve into the work of Bill Brandt through this video

If you would like to contact the Communication Department to request the press dossier, high-resolution images or for any other matter, please complete the form below giving the name of the medium/media for which you require this information.

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