Brassai: Paris by Night

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Brassai: Paris by Night

Brassai: Paris by Night

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The survey includes Brassaï’s pictures of street graffiti, female nudes, and his famous friends such as Pablo Picasso and Salvador Dalí. Night is not the negative of day; black surfaces and white are not merely transposed, as on a photographic plate, but another picture altogether emerges at nightfall. Having tried my hands at night-time photography I never really given full consideration to the fact that the night is not a continuation of the day with different exposure settings, nor is it simply its negative. Working as a journalist by day, by night he roamed the streets of the capital and visited its bistros, sharing moments in the lives of the prostitutes and peddlers, down-and-outs, and illicit lovers who lived on the margins of society.

One of the most important and influential photographers of the twentieth century, Brassai (1899-1984) moved to Paris from Hungary in 1924. The roads ebb by like frozen boiling rivers, through the blinding lights all effervescent yellow forever dimming upwards, hawking wares like glittering salvations from the heart of the night's pure diversion from diurnal life. Continuing his work as a sculptor and painter, he supported himself by working as a journalist, adopting the pseudonym of Brassaï, derived from the name of his native city, Brassó. This book may not have all of Brassai's best works, but it is the most successful collection that I have seen in capturing the spirit of Brassai's photography. This book totally took my mind off my surroundings though and I was stuck in a reverie about summer and travel plans.

When the allies liberated the city in 1944, Brassaï leaned out of his apartment window to watch—he was, as ever, the fearless voyeur.

The current reissue of Paris by Night brings one of the last century’s key photographic works back into print.First published in French in 1932, this new edition brings one of Brassa's finest works back into print. Organized by Fundación MAPFRE and former MoMA curator Peter Galassi, the show, entitled “Brassaï,” opened in Spain earlier this year and landed at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA) this month. In the early 21st century, the discovery of more than 200 letters and hundreds of drawings and other items from the period 1940–1984 has provided scholars with material for understanding his later life and career. As a fan of French photography this is a book I just had to have, the pictures are not the highest quality, but considering the type of camera he was using and that they are taken at night the quality is probably what you would expect.

We’re looking at these views of 1930s Parisian society,” says Lehtinen, “but they’re also these incredible reflections on broader themes of community, labor, sexuality, gender, class, solitude…alienation, strangeness. Slowly my eyes become acclimatized to the night setting and I start to wonder about the people being photographed: I wonder about the photo of a lone prostitute standing at a corner, the light of an out of sight window or gas lamp casting her long shadow onto the sidewalk. The back alleys, metro stations, and bistros he photographed are at turns hauntingly empty or peopled by prostitutes, laborers, thugs, and lovers.Altogether, they contributed to the art magazine Minotaure, edited by Surrealist forerunner André Breton. When 25-year-old Gyula Halász arrived in Paris from his native Hungary in 1924 he’d been trained as an artist and soon found his way into the circles frequented by Picasso, Miró, Dalí and Henry Miller. Shooting at night was a technical challenge, and the photographs display an intriguing variety of light sources—gas lamps and their reflections in the Seine, a glowing brazier, the sparks of a workman’s grinding tool, a burning building with silhouetted firefighters, a checkerboard of lighted and dark windows on a facade. By the end of his life, he’d published 17 books and even produced one film, Tant qu’il y aura des bêtes ( As long as there are beasts), which was released in 1955 and won a major prize at the Cannes Film Festival.



  • Fruugo ID: 258392218-563234582
  • EAN: 764486781913
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