The classics

André Kertész

André Kertész was born on July 2, 1894, in Budapest (Hungary), and died on September 28, 1985 in New York (USA) is a Hungarian photographer, naturalized American. His work marked the 20th century and has participated in recognizing photography as art.

This article opens a new category, entitled “The classics”. It travels photography through the personalities, living or deceased, who mark photography. Absolutely not exhaustive, this category is a reflection of my inspirations.

His life

André Kertész was born in Budapest on July 2, 1894, he discovered photography with his first camera in 1912. He is 18 years old. With the first world war, like hundreds of thousands of young people, he is enlisted. In 1915, seriously injured, he joined the back of the front. In 1917 he published his first photos but it was in 1919 that his practice became assiduous. It is the same year that he meets his future wife Ersébet Salamon. In 1925 he arrived in Paris and registered at the Prefecture of Police as “photo reporter”.

In 1926, he published his photos in German newspapers and made an important meeting, the Dutch painter Piet Mondrian. A year later, he exhibited at the gallery Au Sacre du Printemps. In 1933 he married Ersébet Salamon. Ten years later, in 1936, they leave Paris to join New York.

André Kertész’s career continues and he collaborates with different magazines. In 1938, he made the model of Robert Capa’s book, Death in the Making. At the beginning of the world war II, the career of André Kertész knows difficulties. The couple obtains the American nationality in 1944.

In 1947 he began a regular collaboration with the magazine House & Garden. This contract provides him with an income until his “retirement” in 1961. From this date he participated in various exhibitions, including 1964 at MoMA New York, Arles and Center Georges Pompidou. His wife died in 1977. He created The André and Elizabeth Kertész foundation in New York the same year. In 1984 he signed a donation act of his archives and his correspondence in favor of the French state. In 1985 he visited his brother Jenö hospitalized in Buenos Aires and died shortly after his return on 28 September in New York.

His work

André Kertész’s photography is marked by a poetic approach and out of fashionable artistic trends. From his first photos he offers a photograph full of emotion, inspired by his feelings and experiences.

During his first stay in Paris, he multiplies the photographic explorations, an approach that will never leave him. His look is modern and innovative. He is interested in still life and the presence of shadows and scenes of nocturnal life. Without inscribing himself in artistic trends such as surrealism, André Kertész traces his path.

He takes this photographic philosophy to New York without success. The beginning of the second world war contains André Kertész in his world; and we discover a look of intimacy.

His “retirement”, from 1961, is a new period of production, still in lines sketched from the 15s. Sensitive photography, modern and offbeat.

André Kertész has become a reference for two renowned photographers, including Henri Cartier-Bresson.

A must see

Selection quite personal and absolutely not exhaustive, obviously.

The Fork
Credit: Photo (C) Centre Pompidou, MNAM-CCI, Dist. RMN-Grand Palais / Jacques Faujour
The glasses and the pipe of Mondrian
Credit: Photo (C) Ministère de la Culture – Médiathèque du Patrimoine, Dist. RMN-Grand Palais / André Kertész

Beautiful nightlife scene in Paris in the Montparnasse district. The square still exists, as well as the building from which the photo was taken.

A square ny night
Credit: Photo (C) Ministère de la Culture – Médiathèque du Patrimoine, Dist. RMN-Grand Palais / André Kertész
Distorsion n° 40
Credit: Photo (C) Ministère de la Culture – Médiathèque du Patrimoine, Dist. RMN-Grand Palais / André Kertész

A photo of a rare simplicity but so poetic.

1 janv. 1972
Credit: Photo (C) Ministère de la Culture – Médiathèque du Patrimoine, Dist. RMN-Grand Palais / André Kertész
The bridge of the Arts through the clock of the Institut de France
Credit: Photo (C) Ministère de la Culture – Médiathèque du Patrimoine, Dist. RMN-Grand Palais / André Kertész

To read

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Nicolas Beaumont is a photojournalist, director and writer specializing in social and humanitarian photography. Among our clients are the French Red Cross, Emmaüs, Handicap International, Secours Mag, Dimatex, Actusoins. We make films, photographs and articles around the world on current topics: migration, war, displaced, natural disaster, flood etc...

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