André Kertész, Hungarian-American (1894-1985) - “Eiffel Tower, Paris”, 1929
André Kertész, born Kertész Andor, was a Hungarian-born photographer known for his ground breaking contributions to photographic composition and the photo essay. In the early years of his career, his then-unorthodox camera angles and style prevented his work from gaining wider recognition. Kertész never felt that he had gained the worldwide recognition he deserved. Today he is considered one of the seminal figures of photojournalism.
Expected by his family to work as a stockbroker, Kertész pursued photography independently as an autodidact, and his early work was published primarily in magazine, a major market in those years. This continued until much later in his life, when Kertész stopped accepting commissions. He served briefly in World War I and moved to Paris in 1925, then the artistic capital of the world, against the wishes of his family. In Paris he worked for France’s first illustrated magazine called VU. Involved with many young immigrant artists and the Dada movement, he achieved critical and commercial success.
Due to German persecution of the Jews and the threat of World War II, Kertész decided to emigrate to the United States in 1936, where he had to rebuild his reputation through commissioned work. In the 1940s and 1950s, he stopped working for magazines and began to achieve greater international success. His career is generally divided into four periods, based on where he was working and his work was most prominently known. They are called the Hungarian period, the French period, the American period and, toward the end of his life, the International period.
Kertész’s first encounters with magazine photography inspired him to learn photography. He was also influenced by certain paintings by Lajos Tihanyi and Gyula Zilzer, as well as by poetry.
Hungarian period | After earning enough money, Kertész quickly bought his first camera (an ICA box camera) in 1912, despite his family’s protests to continue his career in business. In his free time, he photographed the local peasants, gypsies, and landscape of the surrounding Hungarian Plains (the puszta).
In 1914, at the age of 20, he was sent to the front line, where he took photographs of life in the trenches with a lightweight camera (a Goerz Tenax).
Most of these photographs were destroyed during the violence of the Hungarian Revolution of 1919. Wounded in 1915 …*
Circus, Budapest, 19 May 1920
French period | Kertész emigrated to Paris in September 1925. Kertész was among numerous Hungarian artists who emigrated during these decades, including François Kollar, Robert Capa, Emeric Fehér, Brassaï, and Julia Bathory. Man Ray, Germaine Krull and Lucien Aigner also emigrated to Paris during this period.
Initially Kertész took on commissioned work for several European magazines, gaining publication of his work in Germany, France, Italy and Great Britain. Soon after arriving in Paris, Kertész changed his first name to André, which he kept for the rest of his life. In Paris he found critical and commercial success. In 1927 Kertész was …*
, or La Fourchette
, was taken in 1928 and is one of Kertész’s most famous works from this period.
, one of the images in the Distortion
series Kertész took during 1933
Pending war | Social and political tensions were rising in Europe with the growing strength in Germany of the Nazi Party. Many magazines emphasized stories about political topics and stopped publishing Kertész because of his apolitical subjects. With his commissioned work dropping and persecution of Jews increasing, Kertész and his wife, Elizabeth, decided to move to New York. He was offered work at the Keystone agency owned by Ernie Prince. In 1936, Kertész and Elizabeth boarded…*
Kertész found life in America more difficult than he had imagined, beginning a period which he later referred to as the “absolute tragedy”. Deprived of his artist friends, he also found that Americans rejected having their photos taken on the street. Soon after his arrival, Kertész …*
Vogue invited the photographer to work for the magazine, but he declined, believing it was not appropriate work for him. He chose to work for Life magazine, starting with a piece called The Tugboat. Despite orders, he photographed more than just tugboats, including works on the entire harbour and its activities. Life refused to publish the unauthorized photographs. Kertész resented the constraints on his curiosity.
In 25 October 1938, Look printed a series of Kertesz photographs, entitled A Fireman Goes to School; but …*
Kertész was naturalised on 3 February 1944.
Critical evaluation | Throughout most of his career Kertész was depicted as the “unknown soldier” who worked behind the scenes of photography, yet was rarely cited for his work, even into his death in the 1980s.Kertész thought himself unrecognised throughout his life, despite spending his life in the eternal search for acceptance and fame. Though Kertész received numerous awards for photography, he never felt both his style and work was accepted by critics and art audiences alike. Although, in 1927, he was …*
Image source: http://bit.ly/107gyH6
…* | read on here: http://bit.ly/17IzVIA