Cameron, Julia M.
Coburn, Alvin L.
Talbot,William H. Fox
Documentary, Photojournalism, Portraiture
Biography: "When you meet the man you see at once
that he is equipped with no ordinary eyes," comments writer
Henry Miller on French photographer Brassai. And the sharpness
of vision and depth of insight noted by Miller are revealed in
Brassais lifelong photographic exploration of Parisits
people, places, and things.
Although Brassai was a leading member of the French "school"
of photography, he was born Gyula Halasz in Brasso, Hungary. (He
takes his pseudonym from his birthplace.) Originally Brassai had
an aversion to photography. As a young man, he studied painting
and sculpture in the Academy of Fine Arts in Budapest. Later he
became a journalist, coming to Paris in 1918. There he fell in
love with the city and with the camera.
Brassai sees Paris as a subject of infinite grandeur, his photographs
providing a sensitive and often extremely dramatic exploration
of its people, its resplendent avenues, and endlessly intriguing
byways. Brassais reputation was established with the publication
of his first book, Paris at Night, now a modern classic. Some
of the pictures in this book are sharply defined, brilliantly
lit, while others capture the mistiness of rainy nights. Still
others concentrate on the shadowy life of the underworld.
As Brassai created more and more pictures of Parisian life, his
fame became international. His pictures of "Graffiti"
(writings and drawings scribbled by countless individuals on the
crumbling walls of buildings) were the subject of his one - man
show at New Yorks Museum of Modern Art. Brassai has indicated
something of his reason for making these pictures in the following
statement: "the thing that is magnificent about photography
is that it can produce images that incite emotion based on the
subject matter alone."
Brassai has also had one-man shows in the Biblioth-Que Nationale
in Paris, the George Eastman House in Rochester, and the Art Institute
in Chicago. His work has been included in many international exhibits
and published in many magazines. He was the last person to receive
Englands P. H. Emerson Award, from Emerson himself. And
it is interesting to note that Brassal has kept up his work in
such other arts as drawing, poetry, and sculpture. Albums of his
drawings and a volume of poetry, Les Pro pos de Marie, have been
published, and recently he had a one-man show of 50 sculptures
in Paris. Along with other great contemporary artistsPicasso,
Moore, Calder, and Noguchi, Brassai had the rare honor of being
asked to create a 23 X 10 foot mural for the UNESCO palace in
Paris. Brassai has said many useful things about photography;
one of the most valuable is the following statement: "We
should try, without creasing to tear ourselves constantly by leaving
our subjects and even photography itself from time to time, in
order that we may come back to them with reawakened zest, with
the virginal eye. That is the most precious thing we can possess".
More on Brassai:
Extensive Exhibit of Brassai's Work
Profotos > Education
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