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Thursday, 29 August 2013

We all owe something to Kertész.

Mondrian's Eyeglasses and Pipe, 1926. André Kertész.
Hungarian born Andre Kertesz has been living in Paris less than a year when he visited the studio of the Dutch painter Piet Mondrian. Mondrian's Eyeglasses and Pipe is among a group of beautiful still lifes that the photographer took that day. Within the austere clarity of these simple geometric forms- common manufactured items that Mondrian used daily - Kertesz captured the essence of this master of abstraction, both his aspiration to order and his slight and human divergences from it. The insistent angularity of the stark white table is offset by the sculptural curves of the glasses, bowl, and pipe, curves that were rigorously excluded from Mondrian's art. Ever since Kertesz began photographing, in 1912, and throughout his long career, he sough the revelation of the found still life, of an abstract or resonating image discovered in the elliptical view. His signature practice of snaring and fixing these lyrical perceptions was facilitated by his later use of light, portable, hand cameras that enabled him to remain mobile and agile even when still lifes. His work had a gigantic influence on the photographers - contemporaries such as Brassaï and Cartier-Bresson; his composition amounts to nothing short of an authority of modernist photography. In Cartier-Bresson’s own words: “We all owe something to Kertész. ”

Brassai and Kertesz (right.)

André Kertész has two qualities that are essential for a great photographer: an insatiable curiosity about the world, about people, and about life, and a precise sense of form.
-Brassai


Robert Doisneau and André Kertész in Arles, France, 1975 © Wolfgang H. Wögerer
The moment always dictates in my work. Everybody can look, but they don’t necessarily see. I see a situation and I know that it’s right.
-André Kertész
The Fork, or La Fourchette (1928)

Everything that surrounds you can give you something. Last summer I stayed in my room most of the time and I began playing around with things. Years ago I was given a little primitive Polaroid camera and I didn’t like it–it was for snapshots. But one day I took it out. I had discovered, in the window of a shop, a little glass bust, and I was very moved because it resembled my wife–the shoulder and the neck were Elizabeth. For months and months I looked at the bust in the window and I finally bought it. The lady in the shop said, ‘It’s a beautiful bust, sir.’ ‘I know,’ I said. And I took it home, put it in my window, and began shooting and shooting with the Polaroid camera–in the morning, in the afternoon, in different lights. Something came out of this little incident, this little object. They made a book of all the pictures I took. It is dedicated to my wife. Look how the face of the bust is always changing: a shadow, which is the shadow of the curtain, then a passing cloud.
The sky and its reflection give it the expression. I didn’t arrange this thing–it was “there”. Photography cannot make nature more beautiful. Nature is the most beautiful thing in the world. You can show the beauty, illustrate it, but it is never the real beauty–very far from it. We don’t know how beautiful nature really is. We can only guess. I am always saying the best photographs are those I never took.
-André Kertész, Kertész on Kertész
André Kertész | The Blind Violinist, Abony, Hungary, 1921
The blind musician. Look at the expression on his face. It was absolutely fantastic. If he had been born in Berlin, London or Paris, he might have become a first-rate musician.

-André Kertész, Kertész on Kertész

Chagall, Marc. The Violinist 1911/14. Kunstsammlung Nordrhein-Westfalen, Dusseldorf
Pont des Arts by Kertész,1929.
The Place de la Concorde, Paris, 1927. 

By 1927 Kertesz’s scenes of the streets of Paris were beginning to attract a great deal of attention, and he had his first show at an avant-garde gallery.

Everything is a subject. Every subject has a rhythm. To feel it is the raison detre. The photograph is a fixed moment of such a raison detre, which lives on in itself.
-Andre Kertesz
.


                                    André Kertész | Washington Square, New York, 1954
 
Andre Kertesz, known for his comprehensive revision of Washington Square Park and his obscure nudes of the 1930s. Kertesz was a still but vital influence on the approaching of age of photojournalism and the art of photography. For more than seventy years, his clever and insightful vision helped to define a medium in its early stages. Though he spent most of his life in the United States, his European modernist awareness is what made him eminent, and that is what he is remembered for in the present day.

"My wife and I found the apartment, which I still live in [Kertész passed away in 1985], in 1952. I take many pictures from my balcony. It looks down onto Washington Square."

-André Kertész, Kertész on Kertész



                                                         Chairs of Paris, 1927/1980.

Le Temps Menaçant (Threatening Weather) René Magritte © ADAGP, Paris and DACS, 
London 2004

National Galleries of Scotland
                                  
"Technique isn't important. Technique is in the blood. Events and mood are more important than good light and the happening is what is important."

- André Kertész
                                                      The Heron, 1969 © André Kertész


 René Magritte, Self-Portrait, 1936. 











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