Nick Brandt’s themes relate to the disappearing natural world, before much of it is destroyed by humankind.
From 2001 to 2018, he has photographed in Africa. In his celebrated trilogy, On This Earth, A Shadow Falls Across The Ravaged Land (2001-2012), he established a style of portrait photography of animals in the wild similar to that of the photography of humans in studio settings. Shot on medium format film, these series portray animals as sentient creatures not so different from us.
In Inherit the Dust (2016), a series of epic panoramas, Brandt recorded the impact of man in places where animals used to roam but no longer do. In each location, Brandt erected a life-size panel of one of his unreleased animal portrait photographs, placing the displaced animals on sites of explosive urban development, new factories, wastelands and quarries. Vicki Goldberg, the photography critic, wrote:
“Brandt's astonishing panoramas... are a jolting combination of beauty, decay, and admonishment. The result is an eloquent and complex "J'accuse", for the people are as victimized by "development" as the animals are. The breadth, detail, and incongruity of Brandt's panoramas suggest a collision between Bruegel and an apocalypse in waiting."
This Empty World (2019) addresses the escalating destruction of the natural world at the hands of humans, showing a world where, overwhelmed by runaway development, there is no longer space for animals to survive. Working in color for the first time, in visually complex tableaux populated by both humans and animals, This Empty World is both a technical tour de force of contemporary image making and an ambitiously scaled project that uses constructed sets on a scale typically seen in major film productions.
Brandt has had solo gallery and museum shows around the world, including New York, London, Berlin, Stockholm, Paris and Los Angeles. Inherit the Dust most recently has been exhibited at Multimedia Museum of Art in Moscow and the National Museum of Finland in Helsinki. Born and raised in England, Brandt now lives in the southern Californian mountains. He is co-founder of Big Life Foundation, fighting to protect the animals of a large area of Kenya and Tanzania.