Tuesday, December 23rd, 2014

Fotomuseum Winterthur Presents Retrospective of One of the Founders of Photojournalism

March 1, 2011 by  
Filed under Photography

WINTERTHUR.- André Kertész is possibly the most photographic of all photographers: he sought out the play of light and shadow; he liked the concentration and overlapping of forms, of moments; and in the everyday, in banality, he recognized poetry, beauty, and even, for all his innate modesty, the “sublime.” Kertész is a photographic poet and seer, for whom it was long difficult to break into the market precisely because of his rich, chiseled iconography.

André Kertész July 3 1979. Polaroid SX 70 original 580x388 Fotomuseum Winterthur Presents Retrospective of One of the Founders of Photojournalism
André Kertész, July 3, 1979. Polaroid SX-70 original, 7,9 x 7,9 cm. Courtesy of Stephen Bulger Gallery.

André Kertész (Budapest 1894–1985 New York) supported Brassaï, inspired Henri Cartier-Bresson, is considered one of the founders of photojournalism, and introduced stylistic elements into photography that can still be found in works by contemporary photographers. At heart, he was a photographer and artist in equal measure, poetic, probing, vital, independent in thought and actions. In a word, he was a master of photography, whose long period of production was very influential. Nevertheless, it took a remarkably long time for his special abilities, his poetic experimental version of photography, to find recognition in the history of photography. The three locations where he lived (Budapest, Paris, New York), his freedom, his form of “contemplative photography,” as Roland Barthes characterized it, made quick reception and categorization of his work impossible. Today, more than twenty-five years after his death, he is recognized and considered to be a central photographer of the twentieth century who crucially enriched the language of photography.

With around 250 photographs and countless magazine contributions, the retrospective at Fotomuseum Winterthur on view until May 15, 2011, allows a comprehensive view of his work. The chronological order and the major themes show what it is that makes up his photographic practice: his unique methods (in photographic postcards, in distortions), his editorial engagement (for example, in the volume Paris vu par Kertész, 1934), his passion for experimentation (with light and shadow), and the evocation of emotions, above all of melancholy and loneliness. Periods that have remained neglected or unexplored until today (his life as a soldier from 1914-1918, for example) are reassessed, and juxtaposed with the development of photojournalism in Paris and the distribution of his pictures in the media, with which he earned his living.

André Kertész liked to characterize himself as an “eternal amateur.” But what a virtuosic “amateur” he was; what virtuosic visual language he employed his entire life to capture the poetry of the everyday! His photographic production was closely connected to his life and psyche. Even when he seemed to be documenting something, he let himself be guided almost exclusively by feeling, by instinct, from his soul. This resulted in a body of work that he liked to compare to a “visual journal”, and about which he said, “I have never just ‘made photos.’ I express myself photographically.”

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