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National Gallery in Washington hosts Kertesz retrospective

 
 
Reply Mon 7 Feb, 2005 04:47 pm
Report in Palm Beach Post

Another exhibit I'd love to see..
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Vivien
 
  1  
Reply Tue 8 Feb, 2005 06:26 am
I'd never heard of him - looks good.
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ossobuco
 
  1  
Reply Tue 8 Feb, 2005 09:32 pm
a Washington Post review, that is a little strange to me...

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A6491-2005Feb7.html
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Vivien
 
  1  
Reply Wed 9 Feb, 2005 03:23 am
I tried to read it but it seemed to not let me register without choosing some advertisers to hear from - no way! I may have done something wrong - wouldn't surprise me Rolling Eyes
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benconservato
 
  1  
Reply Wed 9 Feb, 2005 07:54 am
no registering for me either... can you copy and paste it for us Osso?
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ossobuco
 
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Reply Wed 9 Feb, 2005 10:39 am
Well, I'll copy and paste part of it...
back in a minute. However, Kertesz' work itself is findable online elsewhere. Perhaps at the Getty photo site.. the photo site I linked earlier is just the first one I ran across that had his work listed. Fetterman Gallery might have it too..
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ossobuco
 
  1  
Reply Wed 9 Feb, 2005 10:41 am
An aside, when I check into Washington Post online, I do get ads.. but only during that time of going to and getting off the site, not any other time in my online use. (I am sure I didn't sign up for any emails, I never do that.)
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ossobuco
 
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Reply Wed 9 Feb, 2005 10:43 am
Art
Andre Kertesz: Photographs With Time's Warm Patina

By Andy Grundberg
Special to The Washington Post
Tuesday, February 8, 2005; Page C01


The death of Henri Cartier-Bresson in August at the age of 95 marked the end of an era. Cartier-Bresson was the last of the generation that in the '20s and '30s pioneered the candid and often lyrical photography associated with the 35mm Leica camera. For many he epitomized the idea of the photographer as an intuitive observer of social mores who, thanks to lightning reflexes and a finely tuned eye, could capture the essence of life in a fraction of a second.

But Cartier-Bresson was not the first to perfect the street photography associated with him. That honor more justly belongs to Andre Kertesz (1894-1985), a Hungarian emigre to France and later to New York whose pictures were published and exhibited in Paris while Cartier-Bresson was still a student studying painting.

Kertesz influenced not only Cartier-Bresson but also Brassai, a fellow Hungarian emigre, whose moody pictures of Paris at night in the '30s are indebted to technical skills he learned from Kertesz. But Kertesz's reputation has never quite equaled theirs, in part because of the difficult circumstances of his life and in part because of his difficult personality. This, despite a successful retrospective exhibition that opened shortly before his death at the Art Institute of Chicago and went on to the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.

A new and more complete retrospective, "Andre Kertesz," which opened Sunday at the National Gallery of Art, shines a welcome spotlight on the photographer's 70-year career. Arranged chronologically and judiciously selected by curator Sarah Greenough, the head of the museum's photography department, the exhibition reminds us not only that Kertesz was a great artist but also that his legacy, like that of Cartier-Bresson, is now a historical relic.

"Andre Kertesz" is a jewel box of an exhibition, partly because of the intimacy of the museum's photography galleries but mainly because so many of the 116 photographs on view are perfect little gems.

The earliest pictures, taken between 1912 and 1924 when Kertesz lived in Budapest, are vintage prints barely two inches tall and an inch and a half wide. Toned a warm brown (presumably a result of their age) and minutely detailed, they invite us to be charmed.

And charming they are. Some are conventional landscapes and genre scenes, but others come from the front lines of World War I where Kertesz served as a soldier of the Austro-Hungarian army. Here Kertesz's knack for lyricism first shines forth. What could conceivably have been a crude subject -- four soldiers visiting a makeshift field latrine -- instead seems sweet, even sentimental. Other pictures show Kertesz's brother Jeno cavorting nude in the countryside, playing Icarus (with wings added later, in ink) or swimming underwater as an apparently headless faun. The latter picture, from the collection of Elton John, foreshadows the photographer's later interest in optical distortion.

The center of the exhibition, and the central period of Kertesz's career, is devoted to pictures of Paris, where he lived from 1925 to 1936. These pictures are larger (postcard size, at first, later nearly 8-by-10 inches) but no less captivating; what most distinguishes them from the Hungarian work is that they look modern. A still life of a fork leaning on a plate, a bird's-eye view of pedestrians seen from the Eiffel Tower, a night view of a glowing storefront -- these are modern photographs but not in the sense of being contemporary. Rather, they exhibit the formal characteristics of modernist painting, with their nearly abstract compositions and vertiginous perspectives.





That's part of the article. I'll go find the comment, or emphasis, I thought was strange - that's in another part of it.
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ossobuco
 
  1  
Reply Wed 9 Feb, 2005 10:56 am
Quoting some more, the article ends -

But even while it celebrates one of photography's major artistic figures, the exhibition has a bittersweet quality. For as influential as Kertesz, Cartier-Bresson and Brassai were throughout the second half of the 20th century -- and especially with American photographers, from Garry Winogrand to William Eggleston -- the strand of the medium they championed is now in decline. Today's photographers by and large are more interested in images about images than in finding fresh ways to frame marvelous material in the everyday world. The age of the romantic sensibility in photography may be over, replaced by an age of irony. But as "Andre Kertesz" demonstrates, its innocent charms remain beguiling.
(End quote)


I guess strange is the wrong word. I guess I am stunned that the photography of Cartier-Bresson, Brassai, and Kertesz is considered in decline. Perhaps it's not the norm in photo galleries... but it seems to me to still live well.
And even some early photography was "images about images". (Thinking, I suppose I need to back that up..)

Instead of arguing, perhaps I should listen. I suppose irony is much more present in photography today.
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Vivien
 
  1  
Reply Wed 9 Feb, 2005 05:33 pm
I wouldn't say it was in decline either.


Interesting article - thanks for pasting it here Osso. The descriptions of Cartier Bresson's work are really good too.

I'm off to google for more images as this sounds really good.
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benconservato
 
  1  
Reply Mon 14 Feb, 2005 09:21 am
yes, thank you.
I used to be a big fan of Kertesz in my photography days... he had passed out of my mind. Isn't it strange how the brain works?
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