Academy Art Museum Presents Andre Kertesz. On Reading

The Academy Art Museum presents Andre Kertesz. On Reading on view through JANUARY 15, 2012.

Henri Cartier-Bresson once said of himself, Robert Capa, and Brassaï, that, “Whatever we have done, Kertész did first.” He was referring to the legendary Hungarian photographer André Kertész, a prominent member of Cartier-Bresson’s circle in 1920s Paris. Kertész’s influence continued well into the 1970s, affecting another generation that included Lisette Model, Berenice Abbott, Helen Levitt, Robert Frank, Garry Winogrand, and Lee Fiedlander, among many others.

On Reading, a series of photographs made by Kertész in Hungary, France, and the United States over a 50-year period, illustrates his penchant for the poetry and choreography of life in public and also private moments at home, examining the power of reading as a universal pleasure. Balanced between geometric composition and playful observation, it is easy to understand how these glimpses of everyday people and places changed the course of photographic art.

Kertész (1894–1985) an American, was born in Austria-Hungary and began taking photographs in Budapest in 1912. He was drafted into the Austro-Hungarian Army where he volunteered for service at the Polish and Russian fronts. Wounded in 1915, he returned to Budapest before moving to Paris in 1925. Kertész circulated among avant-garde literary and artistic groups and embraced the deep culture of Paris between the World Wars. With the rise of Hitler and the Nazis, many from the Parisian community took their discoveries to America. Kertész moved with his wife, Elisabeth, to New York in 1936 where he worked as an artist and commercial photographer for the rest of his life, receiving little recognition for his contributions before his untimely death.

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