Saturday, April 23, 2011

André Kertész

"My talent lies in the fact that I cannot touch a camera without expressing myself."

"I am an amateur and intend to remain one my whole life long. I attribute to photography the task of recording the real nature of things, their interior, their life. The photographer’s art is a continuous discovery which requires patience and time. A photograph draws its beauty from the truth with which it’s marked. For this very reason I refuse all the tricks of the trade and professional virtuosity which could make me betray my career. As soon as I find a subject which interests me, I leave it to the lens to record it truthfully. Look at the reporters and at the amateur photographer ! They both have only one goal; to record a memory or a document. And that is pure photography."

"The most valuable things in a life are a man's memories. And they are priceless."

"Seeing is not enough; you have to feel what you photograph."

"Eiffel Tower," 1929

"Washington Squre, Day," 1954

"Chez Mondrean," 1926

"Untitled," 1979 (Polaroid)

"Untitled," 1979 (Polaroid)

"Untitled," 1979 (Polaroid)

"Rue des Ursins," 1931

"Boulevard Raspail, Boulevard Edgar Quinet, Paris," 1952

"Feeding the Ducks in the Late Afternoon, Tisza Szalka," 1924

André Kertész Biography from Seven Decades Exhibition at The J. Paul Getty Museum:

Hungary, 1912–1925

Kertész was born in Budapest, the second of three sons in a middle-class Jewish Hungarian family. Starting in 1912, he made his first photographs in his spare time while working as a clerk at the Budapest stock exchange. As Kertész later recalled, his camera became "a little notebook, a sketchbook. I photographed things that surrounded me—human things, animals, my home, the shadows, peasants, the life around me."

While reviewing a portfolio of his early work, Kertész stated, "I photographed real life—not the way it was, but the way I felt it. This is the most important thing: not analyzing, but feeling."

Paris, 1925–1936

In the early 1920s Kertész became restless in Budapest and craved broader artistic opportunities. After three of his photographs were accepted into an important Budapest exhibition, he moved to Paris in October 1925 and registered his profession as "photo reporter." There he continued his practice of wandering the streets, photographing the world around him. In Paris, Kertész began exhibiting his work and embraced Modernist approaches to photography.

By 1926 Kertész was acutely conscious of the visual arts beyond photography. He became engaged with still lifes, a subject favored by contemporary painters and one he would explore over the course of his career.

In 1933 Kertész was asked by the publisher Querelle to contribute nude photographs to the men's magazine Le Sourire (The Smile). Since the war he had been interested in the optical distortions created by water or the chromium-plate housings of auto lamps.

For this project he used three mirrors and a camera designed to expose 9-by-12-centimeter negatives fitted with an early zoom lens. "Sometimes, just by a half-a-step left or right, all the shapes and forms have changed. I viewed the changes and stopped whenever I liked the combination of distorted body shapes," Kertész recalled.

New York, 1936–1985

In 1936 the Nazi regime was gaining strength and moving across Europe. Kertész left Paris for New York, where he was offered a job with Keystone Press Agency and where he would live for the rest of his life.

Soon after arriving in New York, Kertész spent time prowling the streets looking for fresh subjects, just as he had done in Paris. One afternoon he observed a solitary white cloud lost in a huge blue sky, dwarfed by the monolithic presence of the Rockefeller Center. Kertész said that the cloud represented himself and how he felt as a newly arrived immigrant—something subject to the prevailing winds.

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