« Panasonic 42.5mm: The Everyman Alternative | Main | Oh What Weather (OT) »

Friday, 13 March 2015


These seem like great candidates for part 3 of Great Photographers on the Internet!

André, these are nice snapshots, but you really need to learn how to meter and the exposure triangle. Your images are all underexposed. Photography is all about controlling light. You should really consider bounce flash -- it'll help a lot. And you also need to be more careful about focus, because most of these are back or front-focused. (I can't tell which, but it's definitely one of those.) Also, in the fence picture, the crooked boards are really distracting. You should use the auto-correction feature in lightroom to straighten that out. Keep trying!

Well-said. I feel as you do about Kertesz. How wonderful to see his photograph of Cartier-Bresson and Martine Franck! Thanks. Bill

Had the pleasure to meeting André in Toronto in the late 70's, delightful man, with a twinkel in his eye he asked my model girlfriend if he could photograph her.sadly she declined.

There is now a very interesting exhibition of his work in Valladolid, Spain, but just till next march 15th

I too admire the photographs of Henri Cartier-Bresson but have come to realise that I prefer those of Kertesz because they don't seem to be trying as hard to be great pictures.

The two books which motivated me when I picked up a camera were Andre Kertesz: Sixty Years of Photography (which has the couple looking through a fnece on the cover) and The English by Ian Berry. I still refer to them both 35 plus years later.

Thank you for reminding us of one of the greats, Kertesz has always been a favourite of mine - but THANK YOU for the link, what a charming snap. I always thought Cartier-Bresson didn't know how to smile!

Kertesz also lent insights to Brassai on night photography, for which he wasn't always given proper credit. [Brassai later produced his famous book, Paris de Nuit, or Paris by Night.] Kertesz used a wide variety of cameras and formats…besides a great eye, not a bad technician either.

I have looked for it in books and magazines, but never found the story of MRS Kertesz. Apparently while he was artistically successful, she was the one who earned the big bucks with a cosmetics empire. (See "thanks to the Andre and Elizabeth Kertesz Foundation" on many of the major PBS presentations, including American Masters). A New York apartment overlooking a major square, and a Summer house in Connecticut -- you don't pay for with 8x10s.

"His biography is touching: his midlife years were difficult,"

In the Getty In Focus book on him there is an interesting discussion on his life. They refer frequently to his bitterness at being ignored by publishers and the art world but also point out that his wife ran a very successful perfume business and they led very comfortable lives:

"His family photographs, the snapshots from 1940 through to the 1970s, depicts a very bourgeois life- the country house in Connecticut, the grand piano in the apartment. Everything suggests they lived life to the fullest , and it was all based on Elizabeth's money."

Love his work.

André Kertész is probably my favorite photographer, mostly because he was able to fuse the geometry of the image with a deep and warm humanity.

A couple of years ago I picked up André Kertész: The Early Years [a nearly miniature book, 5.3 in. / 13.5 cm square, with tiny little actual-size images —Ed.]
and you can see, right from the beginning, his deep connection with the people he photographed and the love he had for his home.

I think the big difference between HCB's and Kertész's pictures is that HCB's images jump off the page or wall at you, where Kertész's draw you in and seduce you.

Oh, and I can't resist sharing this fortuitous homage to the maestro:

Satiric Dancer, February 26, 2012
Satiric Dancer, February 26, 2012

I also think the characterization of Kertesz as limited in 'emotional range' does some disservice to his broader range of subject matter and his influence on other photographers (besides Brassai, as noted). His work ranges from portraits (and self-portraits) to street scenes, with and without people (and 'decisive moments'), surrealistic type images (e.g., underwater…'headless'...swimmer) and distortions, 'modernistic' works such as Chez Mondrian and his Mondrian's Pipe and Glasses, lesser known but still wonderful small landscapes, and more.

The 'feel' of these images changes, too, given his wide ranging print sizes and presentation….from tiny contact prints (under 2x3 inches) to carte postales and Polaroids, to more traditionally sized silver prints….and of course books.

Maggie, not only did your Satiric Dancer make me LOL until I have tears in my eyes, but your last paragraph exactly hits the mark.

I always thought that kertesz photograph was surreal - there is a leg missing...

More of these posts, please! If you ask me, this sort of writing is TOP at its best.

Thanks, Mike!

There was a large André Kertész show at the National Gallery in Washington a few years back, marred only by the fad for vintage prints from the photographer’s first editions, whatever they may be. First starting out in Hungary, Kertész had very limited resources and used to send contact prints as postcards to friends, so many of the pictures exhibited were these contact prints. There were even contacts of 35mm negatives, small specks floating in the sea of the 16x20 mats. Academically interesting to see the very first output of a photographer whose work we know so well, but not an enjoyable way to view those pictures, especially since those early pictures are the ones that are perhaps not so familiar.

A nice video about André Kertész can be seen at:
https://www.youtube.com watch?v=zCr1r4boxdU

Yes! Kertész is my favorite photographer.

I especially like his wonderfully precise and complex compositions from Paris in his early days. Not "photography" so much as pure pictorial art.

That is indeed a wonderful picture of C-BH and his wife.
(And C-BH was just insanely camera shy.)

I like that you and others use the word "warm" so much here. I have always felt that "warmth" is my guiding light in this world, as an artist, as a spiritual seeker, and as a human.

Your authoritative championing of Kertesz, your Haydn analogy, and your writing in this piece, are just what makes TOP head and shoulders above any other blog I read.

[Thanks Richard. --Mike]

Another way Andre Kertész differed from Cartier-Bresson was that Kertész did not shy away from cropping and re-examining his pictures. HCB never allowed this. An example you can see in the Editions Hazan book is the picture "Elizabeth and I" you show above. He made two versions of the original in 1933 and a later crop in the early 1960s shifting focus from man and woman to woman.

Maggie, your homage makes me smile.

I had no idea that so many people felt exactly the way I did about the relative merits of HCB's work and Kertész's. I know that comparison is absurd, but it's hard to avoid with those two.

HCB has such verve and darting wit. Kertész is sappier, with a more diffident lens. I love them both, but Kertész feels like family to me.

Jane Corkin (Jane Corkin Gallery, Toronto) deserves a significant portion of the credit for the "rediscovery" of Kertész in North America.

I was fortunate to see an exhibit of over 100 of his photos in the Spring of 2005 at the National Gallery while in Washington D.C. that year. I've loved his work ever since.

That photograph of HCB by Kertesz is absolutely amazing.

To expand on my earlier comment, one would get a different sense of Kertesz's people interactions, or lack thereof, using other well known photos such as 'Poughkeepsie' or 'Dubonnet' (On the Boulevards)….plus many others. He experimented with a range of work, and emotion, not evident in this post….even though he might be regarded by many in the more limited sense.

"Maggie, not only did your Satiric Dancer make me LOL until I have tears in my eyes, but your last paragraph exactly hits the mark."

"Maggie, your homage makes me smile."

Thanks, Bill & Ben!! It made me smile when I made it and I'm glad it does it for others!

Andre Kertesz "On Reading", a magnificent gem.

I found a copy of _On Reading_ endorsed in Kertész's hand "To Regina and Michael with friendship Feb 21-1974 A. Kertész", for sale on the street in Manhattan. Anyone know who they might be?

Ben wrote: "I found a copy of _On Reading_ endorsed in Kertész's hand 'To Regina and Michael with friendship Feb 21-1974 A. Kertész', for sale on the street in Manhattan. Anyone know who they might be?"

If I'm not mistaken, that would be Regina Fiorito and Michael Edelson. Mike worked with me for several years at Camera 35, and wrote for other of my magazines as well, but in 1974 I believe he was assisting Cornell Capa at ICP. I think Regina and Mike were still a couple at the time, but separated shortly thereafter. Ultimately Mike went on to become a professor of photography and film at the State University of New York at Stony Brook. I believe he is now retired, and no-doubt still photographing. -- Jim Hughes

Thanks, Jim. I have, not without regret, reached out to Mike to see if he wants his book back.

I can't help but imagine that the couple in the Kertesz photo are looking at Duchamp's "Étant donnés," though the photo is surely earlier than Duchamp's last work.


In case anyone's heading that way there's a nice little museum dedicated to Andre Kertesz near the Danube River just south of Budapest in the village of Szigetbecse - don't ask how that's pronounced - which is where he spent his summer holidays in his youth and first started to make photographs. My partner and I cycled that way enroute to the Black Sea a couple of years back. I took a photo of her with one of my last rolls of Portra 120 film on a Holga camera as she made a digital pix of the placard in his memory on the wall of the house near the entrance to the village where he lived. I was going to post a copy of that picture but can't do it here for whatever reasons. However, it's featured at the begining of my 2014 Blurb book 'East of here' which can be viwed online.

The comments to this entry are closed.



Blog powered by Typepad
Member since 06/2007