Hungarian photographer, artist, and writer, noted for his depictions of artists and Parisian low-life in the late 1920s and 1930s. He became a French citizen in 1948.
Born in Brassó, Hungary (now Brasov, Romania), he was educated in Budapest and at the Berlin Academy of Arts. Embarking on a career in journalism, he settled in Paris in 1923 and took the pseudonym ‘Brassaï’ after his home town. He sketched aspects of the city and in the late 1920s began taking photographs, especially of life in the Montparnasse district – the artists, pimps, and prostitutes who frequented the bars and theatres. He also displayed an artist's vision in capturing on film such unlikely subjects as graffiti and masonry. His pictures of Paris were published in Paris de nuit (1933) and Voluptés de Paris (1935). In 1932, the editors of Minotaure commissioned Brassaï to photograph the sculpture of Picasso. This marked the start of a long friendship between the two men and introduced Brassaï to a wide circle of artists and intellectuals living in Paris, many of whom he photographed. Conversations avec Picasso appeared in 1964, with text and photographs by Brassaï.
During World War II, Brassaï lived in occupied Paris but turned to drawing and sculpture as less hazardous pursuits than photography. Trente dessins was published in 1946. Brassaï resumed photography after the war. His range of subjects broadened until by the late 1960s he was experimenting with a mix of photography and graphics – his ‘transmutations’. Of his writings, Histoire de Marie (1949) is based on the life of his charwoman.
Subjects: Photography and Photographs.