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 Brassai

 

 

Brassai


(b Brasso, Transylvania, Hungary [now Romania], 9 Sept 1899; d Nice, 8 July 1984).

French photographer, draughtsman, sculptor and writer of Hungarian birth. The son of a Hungarian professor of French literature, he lived in Paris in 1903–4 while his father was on sabbatical there, and this early experience of the city greatly impressed him. In 1917 he met the composer Béla Bartók, and from 1918 to 1919 he studied at the Academy of Fine Arts in Budapest. Due to the hostility between Hungary and France in World War I he was unable to study in France and so moved to Berlin in late 1920. There he became acquainted with László Moholy-Nagy, Kandinsky and Kokoschka and in 1921–2 attended the Akademische Hochschule in Charlottenburg, Berlin. He was a keen draughtsman and while there produced a series of characteristic drawings of nudes executed in an angular, emphatic style. In 1924 he moved to Paris, where he quickly became involved with the artists and poets of the Montmartre and Montparnasse districts while supporting himself as a journalist. In 1925 he adopted the name Brassai, derived from that of his native town, and throughout that year he continued drawing as well as making sculptures. In 1926 he met André Kertész, who introduced him to photography. In 1930 Brassai began taking photographs of Paris at night, concentrating on its architecture and the nocturnal activities of its inhabitants. These were collected and published as Paris de nuit in 1933 and showed the night workers, cafés, brothels, theatres, streets and buildings of the capital. The artificial lighting created strong tonal contrasts, lending the images a strikingly evocative beauty. Some of his photographs were included in the exhibition Modern European Photographers at the Julien Levy Gallery in New York in 1932, and the following year at the Arts et Métiers Graphiques in Paris he had a one-man show of his photographs of Paris, which travelled to the Batsford Gallery in London the same year.

 



Sevillance Denudee from the series: Transmutations
1934

 
 
 
 

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