Brassaï, who was born in 1899 in what was then the Hungarian town of Brassó, emigrated in 1920 to Berlin, where he studied at the Academy of Art in Charlottenburg and got to know artists such as Wassily Kandinsky, Oskar Kokoschka and László Moholy-Nagy. In 1924 he moved to Paris, where he began his career not as a photographer but as a journalist working mainly for German-language magazines. His friend André Kertész took photos to accompany his articles. It was his journalistic work that eventually led him to photography.
The exhibition features photos and drawings from the period between 1932 and 1960 and is divided into several chapters. Among the exhibits are Paris by Night (1932), Brassaï’s work for the magazine Minotaure (1933–1939), the so-called ‘Transmutations’, drawings, pictures for the photo book Camera in Paris and the Graffiti series (1960). Brassaï became famous for his views of Paris by night. During the 1930s he wandered around the city at night either alone or in the company of writers such as Henry Miller and Raymond Queneau. The success of these views encouraged him to photograph daytime Parisian street scenes too. His involvement with the Surrealists, on the other hand, awakened his interest in the ‘primitive’ and led to the photographic series of ‘involuntary sculptures’ (‘sculptures involontaires’).
The recipient of numerous awards and prizes, Brassaï died in Beaulieu-sur-Mer on 7 July 1984.
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