André Kertész, Hungarian/American (1894 - 1985)


Photographer, b. 1894 Hungary, d. 1985 New York City

"The moment always dictates in my work…Everybody can look, but they don't necessarily see… I see a situation and I know that it's right." -- André Kertész

André Kertész was born Andor Kertész (changed his first name to André at the age of 21) in Hungary, 1984. He bought his first camera and made his first photograph while working as a clerk at the Budapest stock exchange in 1912. After years of amateur snapshot photography in his native Hungary, he moved to Paris in 1925 and began a career as a freelance photographer. There the young transplant, speaking little French, took to the streets, wandering, observing, and developing his intimate approach to imagemaking. He also met and began to photograph other artists, including Brassaï and Chagall, and members of the Dada Movement. One of them dubbed him "Brother Seeing Eye", an allusion to a medieval monastery where all the monks were blind except one.

From 1933 to 1936, Kertész published three books of his own photographs. Immigrating to the United States in 1936 with his wife to escape the increasing tension n Europe that was leading to World War II, he settled in New York, where he earned his living photographing architecture and interiors for magazines such as House and Garden.

However, his personal photographic style did not mesh well with the straightforward fashion photography the American public (and magazines) expected. He continued to exhibit his individual work as best he could but his reputation slowly faded, and he became disillusioned.

Kertész then had a solo show at the Museum of Modern Art in 1964 which relaunched his career and reputation. He caught the mood of the times and became something of an elder statesman to the photographers of the late 1960s and early 1970s. By the mid-1970s he was showing his work in galleries all over the world. He continued working very productively into old age, and was experimenting with instant Polaroid photography shortly before he died.

Kertész is now recognized as one of the seminal figures of photojournalism.

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