Commemorative issue Masters of American Photography
New York cityscale, Andre Kertesz
André Kertész was born in Budapest, Hungary during 1895, but we have no details on his childhood at this time or the clothes that he wore as a boy. While still a youth, André found a photographic manual in an attic and was fascinated by it.
He became a photographer of street and genre scenes at that time, and worked as a clerk at the Budapest Stock Exchange from 1912 to 1914. He obtained his first cameram an Ica, in 1913 and at age 18 he began making a photographic record of his daily life. This developed into his career as a photographer, chronicling the everyday life of the people around him. During service with the Austro-Hungarian Army in the Balkans and Central Europe in 1914-1915, Kertész photographed his comrades and their activities until he was severely wounded in battle. Many of the images he made were lost during the Hungarian Revolution of 1918. In 1922 he received an honorary diploma from the Hungarian Association of Photography.
Kertész is one of the most prolific photographers of the 20th century. Like Cartier-Bresson () or Doisneau (French), he is one of the great masters of humanistic photography, which sympathetically focuses on the life of common people. Kertész in 1922 moved to Paris where jhe first sold prints for a pitance to make a living. Eventually he began working as a free-lance photographer for many important magazines. His first oneman show was held at the Sacre du Printemps Gallery, Paris, in 1927. He took many noted phortraits of famous Parisianartists. During the 1930s he published several collections of his photographs. One of his best known is Enfants published in 1933. Some of the photographs were taken in the classroom and wonderfully record French school life. These studies are mostly European and some of the best are set in France.
Kertész was widely acclaimed as a photographic master by the 1930s, based on his work in Europe. He was employed by the Keystone Studios in 1936 and came to Anerica in 1937. As a result of World War II which erupted in 1939 he stayed in America. After 1940 when France was occupied by the Germans he had no desire to return. He became an American citizen in 1944. Many of his European negatives unfortunately have been lost. He did a great deal of commercial work while in America. This caused his reputation to decline, but since the 1960s he has been seen as one of the photographic gianys of the 20th century. After 1963 Kertész he devoted himself to more creative photography and the exhibition and publication of his life's work.
Kertész worked in a wide range of photographic modes. His work includes portraits, still-lifes, nudes, distortions, and photo-reportage. It is the photo-reportage that is of greatest interest to HBC. He has some wonderful images of Paris life, including some school photography. Kertész had a nack for capturing telling moments in individual lives. He had an enormous influence on photography, especially during his time in France. Noted photographers like Henri Cartier-Bresson, Robert Capa, and Brassai. Cartier-Bresson acknowledged this achievement: "Whatever we have done, Kertész did first."