André Kertész: The Nebulous Visions of a Solitary Man

Melancholic Tulip, 1939

Satiric Dancer, 1926

Place de la Concorde, Paris, 1928

Distortion No. 41 (With Self-Portrait), 1933

André Kertész: The Nebulous Visions of a Solitary Man

Twenty-five years after his death, André Kertész (1894–1985) is today a world-famous photographer who produced images that will be familiar to everyone. However, he has yet to receive full recognition for his personal contribution to the language of photography in the 20th century. His career spanning more than seventy years was chaotic, and his longevity was matched by an unwavering creative acuity that made an immediate or retrospective understanding of his work difficult.

For the first time, an exhibition at Jeu de Paume in Paris has assembled a sizable collection of prints and original documents covering the different periods of Kertész’s life and artistic career. It brings together a large number of prints and original documents that highlight the exceptional creative acuity of this photographer, from his beginnings in Hungary, his homeland, to Paris, where between 1925 and 1936 he was one of the leading figures in avant-garde photography, to New York, where he lived for nearly fifty years without encountering the success that he expected and so rightly deserved.

It pays tribute to a photographer whom Cartier-Bresson regarded as one of his masters, and reveals, despite an apparent diversity of periods, situations, themes and styles, the coherence of Kertész’s approach. The exhibition reveals how Kertész developed a genuine poetics of photography, what he called “a real photographic language.” The display highlights the autonomy of each photograph, while at the same time indicating the presence of series or recurring themes (for example, the distortions, the buildings of New York, the chimneys, and solitude).

Kertész remained true to his intuitive, allusive personal style, and used his work to give voice to the sadness that undoubtedly permeated his entire life in New York, rendered most explicitly in The Lost Cloud (1937). Right up until the end of his life, he sought images of solitude, and on January 1, 1972, during a trip to Martinique, he caught the fleeting, pensive profile of a man behind a pane of frosted glass: this nebulous vision of a solitary man before the immensity of the sea was the last image in his retrospective collection, Sixty Years of Photography, 1912–1972.

André Kertész at Jeu de Paume, Paris

Slide Show: André Kertész/The Nebulous Visions of a Solitary Man

(Please Click Image to View Slide Show)

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