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André Kertész

(1894—1985)


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(1894–1985)

Hungarian-born US photographer whose pictures of Paris in the 1920s were a major influence on the development of photojournalism.

After attending the Hungarian Academy of Commerce, Kertész worked as a clerk on the Budapest Stock Exchange. During World War I he served with the Austro-Hungarian army and was wounded in 1915. He had begun taking pictures as a hobby, and after the war magazines started to accept his work for publication. His early pictures display a remarkable instinct for humanity and warmth in a scene, usually of everyday life in Budapest.

In 1925 Kertész moved to Paris. His love for the city is evident in numerous pictures, often showing features of the city from new and unexpected vantage points, with unusual juxtaposition of form and light. He also took portraits of friends, who included artists and writers, such as Piet Mondrian, Marc Chagall, and Colette. Kertész owned one of the first compact Leica cameras and took full advantage of the greater freedom and flexibility it allowed. His first one-man show was held in 1927 and the following year he exhibited in the prestigious First Independent Salon of Photography. Besides contributing to various European magazines, in the early 1930s he published collections of photographs with the themes of children, Paris, and animals and made over 150 surrealistically distorted studies of nudes.

In 1936, Kertész took a one-year contract with the Keystone picture agency in the USA. With war looming in Europe, he decided to stay on in New York, becoming a US citizen in 1944. He freelanced for several years until in 1949 he was contracted full-time to photograph fashions and design for a US magazine house. His early work underwent reappraisal in the 1960s and 1970s, with the publication of such retrospective works as André Kertész: Sixty Years of Photography, 1912–1972 (1972) and J'aime Paris: Photographs since the Twenties (1974). His eye for the telling detail, such as the small signs of nature in the environs of his New York apartment, is still obvious in Of New York (1976).

Subjects: Art.


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