Lucien Aigner, Hungarian/American (1901 - 1999)

Lucien Aigner was born in Hungary in 1901. At the age of 9 he received his first camera, a box Brownie, and began to take pictures of his family. By the age of 25, Aigner became a reporter for Az Est, a Hungarian newspaper group in Budapest, and began taking pictures for the publication soon after.

By 1925, the invention of the pocket-sized Leica camera altered the course of photographic history. Unlike cameras before it, this hand-held camera made it possible to photograph under existing light conditions in most situations, including indoors and at night. Therefore, the artist had the ability to capture human interaction under natural and often spontaneous circumstance. Lucien Aigner taught himself to use the Leica and joined the ranks of such well-known masters as Alfred Eisenstaedt, Robert Capa and Henri Cartier-Bresson.

Working as the Paris correspondent of the London General Press at the Stresa Conference of 1935, Lucien Aigner captured one of his most memorable photographs of a relaxed Mussolini twitching his nose. The image made the cover of Newsweek in 1940, and gave Aigner international recognition as a top photojournalist. In 1941, after emigrating from France to the United States to escape Nazi persecution, Aigner spent time at Princeton shooting Albert Einstein. These later images of Einstein have today become synonymous with the name "Lucien Aigner" and, in fact, were among Einstein’s favorite photos of himself.

Lucien Aigner’s works are included in many major collections including the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Museum of Modern Art, Smithsonian Institution, ICP New York City, Victoria & Albert, London and Bibliotheque Nationale, Paris.

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