André Kertész was born in Budapest in 1894 and studied at the Academy of Commerce until he bought his first camera in 1912. He served in the Austro-Hungarian army during World War I, and in 1925 had one of his photographs published on the cover of Erdekes Ujsay. That same year, he moved to Paris, where he did freelance work for many European publications, including Vu, Le Matin, Frankfurter Illustrierte, Die Photographie, La Nazione Firenze, and The Times of London. He bought his first 35-millimeter camera, a Leica, in 1928, and his innovative work with it on the streets of Paris was extremely influential. In 1936, he came to the United States, and began freelancing for Collier’s, Harper’s Bazaar, and House & Garden, among other mass-circulation magazines. Eventually, and until 1962, he worked under contract to Condé Nast. Between 1963 and his death, his independently produced photographs became more widely accessible, and Kertész became one of the most respected photographers in America. His work was the subject of many publications and exhibitions, including solo exhibitions at the Bibliothèque Nationale in Paris and at the Museum of Modern Art, and a major retrospective, Of Paris and New York, at the Art Institute of Chicago and the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Among his many honors and awards were a Guggenheim Fellowship and admission to the French Legion of Honor.
Kertész’s work had widespread and diverse effects on many photographers, including Henri Cartier-Bresson, Robert Capa, and Brassaï, who counted him as a mentor during the late 1920s and early 1930s. His personal work in the 1960s and 1970s inspired countless other contemporary photographers. Kertész combined a photojournalistic interest in movement and gesture with a formalist concern for abstract shapes; hence his work has historical significance in all areas of postwar photography.
Francois Kollar (1904-1979) was born in Hungary. In 1923 he moved to Paris, where he worked as a studio manager for the printing company Draeger. At 24 he became a professional photographer, setting up his own studio in 1930. Kollar employed many of the new vision photographic techniques and found commercial work with several fashion magazines, as well as advertising agencies. Throughout his photographic career, he was drawn to industrial subjects. Kollar often photographed people in their roles in the production process; likely, he was influenced by his first jobs working on the railways and as a lathe operator in a car factory.
Paul Almasy (1906–2003) was a pioneer of photojournalism. For more than six decades he traveled the world with his camera and during this time took about 120,000 photographs. Almasy termed his oeuvre an “archive of the world”, cataloguing the photographs by country – and for each country he visited he then sorted the photographs by category: state, economy, culture, everyday life, animals and plants, being but a few of them. In this way, he established a detailed and comprehensive picture archive that today constitutes a unique document of 20th century history.
Paul Almasy’s oeuvre bears witness to his interest in the fabric of society and his preference for things foreign. His black-and-white work focuses almost always on people. Almasy is not concerned here with social class or milieu: he photographed the powerful men of his time, Bohemian artists in Paris, but also midwives in Africa, rice farmers in Indonesia and street children in Mexico. Even where Almasy addresses poverty and distress, he never does this as a voyeur but participates respectfully in what he sees while preserving his distance as an observer. It was an approach he internalized: “When I took photographs, I never crouched down like a cat about to pounce on its prey. I never attacked with my camera.” Paul Almasy always viewed himself as a photojournalist and never as a photographer. He wanted his pictures primarily to inform the viewer, meaning that the form was never to outweigh the content. Nevertheless, Almasy’s photographs are entrancing, attesting as they do to his unerring eye for subject matter, angle and cropping.
At the tender age of 17, Paul Almasy left his native Budapest and after various interludes, among others in Vienna and Munich, he ended up in Paris. It was the city that was to become the second home and main point of reference for the self-taught photojournalist – and it was likewise his gateway to the world. It was from here that he set out on his countless world trips on behalf of WHO, UNESCO and UNICEF. For a time, Paul Almasy was a visiting professor lecturing at the Sorbonne. He became French citizen in 1956. In September 2003, Paul Almasy died at the age of 97 in Paris.
François Kollar is a magnificent photographer. He produced strong images that possess few histrionics, even less ego. They simply just are.
People quoted in this posting comment that in his photographs “human measure is omnipresent”; that you never loose the sense of scale; that there are “frequent contrasts between near and far, the intimate and the monumental”; that his photographs are “an anthropological investigation into the behaviour, gestures and postures of people at work”; that “Men and women and their functions and roles in the production process are recurrent elements.”
All these statements are true.
Further, his images are sensitive, beautiful, show no traces of any social movements, and little sign of emotion. As Dominique Vautrin observes, “François Kollar is a photographer who resembles his images: somewhat mysterious, beautiful, and discreet…” And as the text from Jeu de Paume states, “He revealed himself to be a temperate photographer, somewhere between the barebones modernism of Bauhaus and a humanist approach to photography.” Other photographers who could fit into this playlist could be Bill Brandt in England, Walker Evans in America and Wolfgang Sievers in Australia.
But what a splendid description – a “temperate photographer”. Showing moderation and self-restraint… there is far too little of that in contemporary photography. A humanist with an avant-garde edge, a photographer whose vision was clear and consistent throughout his oeuvre, who could turn his hand to anything: advertising, fashion, avant-garde, double exposures, solarisation, photomontage, documentary reportage, surrealism, constructivism, modernism.
Joseph Nechvatal comments that Kollar’s work is poignant. This is an incorrect word to describe the work, for the photographs never evoke a keen sense of sadness or regret. They are of a different order altogether. Let me explain.
There is a wonderful stoicism about the people who Kollar chooses to photograph, who inhabit his world of work. The endurance of work without the display of feelings and without complaint. Labour is not represented in any glorified way, not as a noble undertaking, and certainly not heroic (although the worker can be represented as intimate and monumental). The workers are represented as an adjunct to the machine but not in a cyborg fashion. In his photographs there is a distinctness about the worker which sets the human apart from the machine, even as he is “deeply embedded within their functions and roles in the production process.” I don’t believe that people understand this separation, preferring instead to comment on the embedding of the human within machine processes. But something was bothering me when I looked at these images and I have pondered long and hard over how to interpret them. There was something I could not put my finger on and it is this…
In the work of Lewis Hine, the workers are in the present looking to the future. In the work of François Kollar there is no justification for the work it is just work… being there in the present. No ego, no elevation of experience or emotion, and the photographs are just so. Just being in the world. The thing itself. Nothing more, nothing less. It seems simple when you say it like that, but the concept is very complex – to allow the photograph to materialise from consciousness, as a sort of previsualisation of experience – of being a poor, working class immigrant (which Kollar was) picturing his own.
That he achieved such photographs “with his 5 x 7 large-format camera and cumbersome lighting equipment” is a testament to the dedication to his craft, to his work, and to his roots – a connection to the working man and woman. These are honest and forthright photographs of what most humans do for most of their life: work at a job they may not like – to pay the bills, to put food on the table. The lighting is superb, the compositions eloquent, the characters in his images unforgettable (Kollar particularly likes portraits of men shot from below with their arms folded) but it is the balance between the subjective and objective which is so finely honed in his work. The dispationate nature of humans when at work is balanced by the aesthetics of the artist and the humanity of the individual.
Dr Marcus Bunyan for Art Blart
Photographer and photojournalist Eva Besnyö was born in Budapest on April 29, 1910. Her father, Bernat Besnyö, a lawyer, was born in 1877 and killed in Auschwitz in 1944. Her mother Ilonka, née Kelemen, was born in 1883 and died in 1981. Raised in a liberal Jewish home, Eva grew up knowing both German and Hungarian. Her father’s wish that she continue studying after completing high school was not to her liking; she wanted to become a photographer. Thus in 1928 she began a two-year course of studies at the renowned József Pécsi Portrait, Advertising and Architecture Studio, where she also did her apprenticeship. In 1930 she decided to move to Berlin, metropolis of the avant-garde, not only in order to get away from home but also in order to leave the Hungary of the Horthy regime. Later she referred to her stay in Berlin as the most important period of her life, meaning that it laid the foundations not only of her photographic practice but also of her political awareness. She worked for a short time in the laboratory of the advertising photographer René Ahrlé until she found more interesting employment with the press photographer Dr. Peter Weller, for whom she did photoreportage on everyday themes. As was customary at the time, these appeared under his name in the Berliner Illustrirten Zeitung. When she was permitted to choose her own topics, she simply went out on the streets, where she always found what interested her. She became part of a circle of socially and politically engaged intellectuals and artists such as György Kepes, Joris Ivens, John Fernhout, Lászlo Moholy-Nagy, Otto Umbehr (Umbo), Robert Capa and others, attended the Marxist Workers’ Evening Courses, went to productions by Erwin Piscator and was fascinated by Russian film. In 1931 she seized an opportunity to become independent by establishing her own studio. Commissions and work for the Neofot Picture Agency brought her success, which was however soon interrupted: early on she became aware of the growing threat of National-Socialism and in the autumn of 1932 she decided to move to Amsterdam with her Dutch companion, the cameraman John Fernhout, with whom she lived until 1939. With the help of the artist Charley Toorop, she soon found her feet in Holland and the recognition she won by her exhibitions led to numerous commissions in the fields of photoreportage, portraits, fashion and architecture. In 1934 she became a member of the association of artists for the defense of cultural rights. In this capacity she participated in the association’s 1936 protest exhibition against the Berlin Olympic Games, the “Olympics under Dictatorship” and organized the internationally-oriented exhibition “Foto ’37” at the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam, intended to enhance awareness of photography as an art form.
After the capitulation of the Netherlands army in May 1940, as the conditions of Jews steadily deteriorated, Eva Besnyö was forbidden to engage in all journalistic activities. In 1942, when her sole source of income was a few private commissions, she went underground for two years. After the war she received numerous commissions for photo-documentation and remained professionally active, though she was now the mother of a son (born in 1945) and a daughter (born in 1948), fathered by the graphic designer Wim Brusse, from whom she separated in 1968. From 1970 to 1976 Eva Besnyö was active in the Dolle-Mina feminist movement for women’s rights and through her photographs became the chronicler of events. In 1980 she rejected the Ritterorden (knighthood) which was to have been bestowed on her by the Queen of the Netherlands. In 1999, in Berlin, the “grand old lady” of Dutch photography was awarded the Dr. Erich Salomon Award for her life’s work and at the end of the same year the Stedelijk Museum held an exhibition of her work.
Eva Besnyö died in Laren, Netherlands on December 12, 2002.
In his day, the Hungarian Martin Munkacsi (1896–1963) was one of the most famous photographers in the world. His dynamic photographs of sports, entertainers, politics, and street life in Germany and Hungary from the late 1920s and 1930s, were taken in a new, freewheeling style that captured the speed and movement of the modern era. Many of those early photographs were published in German photo weeklies, where Munkacsi made his reputation doing reportage, often from exotic locales. In 1933, Munkacsi turned his energetic style to fashion photography, making images of models running on the beach. Those pictures revolutionized fashion photography with their informality and vitality. Soon after he was offered a contract by Carmel Snow, the editor of Harper’s Bazaar, and he left for New York, where he made his fame and fortune. This exhibition, organized by F.C. Gundlach at the Haus der Photographie, Hamburg, includes over 125 vintage photographs as well as magazines and page layouts.
Flora is a young fine art photographer from Hungary. She uses exquisite photo manipulation to create surreal images that are thematically focused on identity, relationships, emotions and dreams. Her immaculate technique and subtle conceptual ideas create beautiful evocations of universal emotions, from lust and desire to despair and loss.
Flora at once captures the complex strength and fragility of the human psyche. She expertly visualises dark fantasies and atmospheric dreams, utilising the uncanny and clever metaphor, while unlocking what it means to think, feel, dream and express in the urban world.
Her work often features the female body and she plays with hiding and revealing the eyes or face to leave only the feminine form,
exploring questions of female representation and the relationship between body and self.
Flora has exhibited internationally with solo exhibitions in Europe and the USA, and has most notably taken part in the “Continental Shift” group exhibition at Saatchi Gallery. She has also exhibited at the Louvre, France. Her ethereal aesthetic has won multiple art prizes and garnered critical acclaim from press including The Guardian’s Observer and BBC Culture. Her artwork was the face of Adobe Photoshop in 2014.
Photographer Ata Kandó came from a family of intellectuals. She trained at the Bortnyik School, a private art school in Budapest where she met her first husband, the painter Gyula Kandó. After completing her training, she became an apprentice with the photographers Klara Wachter and Haar Ferenc. She took her final exam under Professor Joszef Pecsi.
During the 1930’s, she spent two short periods in Paris and Barcelona with her husband Gyula Kandó. Until the outbreak of World War Two Ata Kandó worked as a children’s photographer, but hardly anything of this prewar work has survived. During World War Two, they were both active in the Resistance, among other things by creating various false official documents. Their first child Tom was born in 1941 followed by twin daughters in 1943.
In 1947 the family departed for Paris again. However, Gyula decided to return to Hungary, and Ata stayed behind, alone with three children. Through her compatriot Robert Capa she found work in the lab of the recently founded Magnum photo agency where, in 1950, she met 25-year old Ed van der Elsken. Ata Kandó and Ed van der Elsken got married in 1953 in Paris. A year later they moved to Amsterdam together, but there the marriage fell apart. After that, Ata continued to travel to Paris several times a year to photograph fashion shows.
In 1954, after her divorce from Ed, Ata Kandó took her children to Switzerland and Austria. This is where she took the photos which later became the book “Dream in the Forest”.
After the Russian invasion of Hungary in 1956, Ata Kandó wanted to offer help to the stream of Hungarian refugees. Together with Violette Cornelius, she traveled to the Austrian-Hungarian border. This resulted in a moving and magnificent Untitled Book layed out by Jurriaan Schrofer, for the benefit of Hungarian children. A new edition of this book came out in 2006 to con-memorate the 50th year after the revolution.
With her children, Ata completed the photo book “Dream in the Forest,” with text by her then 14 year old son Tom Kandó. The book was published in 1957. “Calypso and Nausicaa”, a book after Homer’s Odyssey, was also made with her children, but had to wait until 2004 for publication.
From 1961, Ata Kandó was a photography instructor at the School of Graphic Arts in Utrecht and the AKI in Enschede. Koen Wessing and Ad van Denderen are some of her noteworthy students.
In 1961 Ata Kandó went on a trip through the Amazon region at the invitation of a Parisian mannequin married to an Indian assistant of Le Corbusier. She became so concerned about the Amazonian Indians that she returned to the area in 1965 for a lengthier stay. On her return she co-founded the workgroup “South American Indians” and published her book “Slave Or Dead”. Through exhibitions and accompanying publications, she hoped to help prevent the extermination of these isolated surviving tribes. The 1970 Budapest publication of “Children of the Moon” is an extensive account of Ata Kandó’s trips through South America.
From 1979 to 1999, Ata lived overseas, receiving her wel-deserved photographic recognition only after her return to the Netherlands in 2001.
In 2004 publication in the Netherlands of “Calypso and Nausicaa”. From as recently as 2008 Ata Kando, now almost a centenarian, gets two more books published:
“The Living Other” about today’s relationship between humans and animals, in collaboration with Diana Blok and Sacha de Boer,
In 2010 “Ata Kandó Photographer” is published, a retrospective of Ata Kandó’s oeuvre including many previously unpublished photographs.
Arnold Eagle immigrated to the United States with his parents in 1929. He learned photography in the early 1930s, worked as a photo retoucher, and bought his first camera in 1932. He cultivated a passion for documentary photography through his membership in the Film and Photo League, and in 1936 joined several others in establishing an independent Photo League devoted exclusively to still photography. Throughout the 1930s and 1940s, Eagle produced extended documentary projects, including a portrait of the Orthodox Jewish community on Manhattan’s Lower East Side; One Third of a Nation, a Works Progress Administration series depicting slum conditions in New York City; and a documentation of the vanishing elevated subway trains. He contributed photographs to Fortune and The Saturday Evening Post throughout the 1940s and worked with Roy Stryker for Standard Oil of New Jersey. Among his best-known bodies of work are his photographs for the Martha Graham Dance Company, a decade long endeavor begun in 1944. Eagle, who was cinematographer for Hans Richter’s Dreams That Money Can Buy and Robert Flaherty’s Louisiana Story, taught filmmaking for more than three decades at the New School for Social Research.
Eagle’s socially concerned documentary photographs of the 1930s and 1940s were dedicated not only to divulging the social problems of contemporary society, but to elucidating its positive aspects as well. He was devoted to preserving aspects of urban culture that were in danger of disappearance, and in this respect, his work is invaluable to our historical understanding New York in the 1930s and 1940s. His work has been shown infrequently; a notable exhibition was held at ICP in 1990.
André Kertész. The Hungarian name form is Kertész Andor.
As a young man André Kertész found a photographic manual in an attic and decided to become a photographer. After the death of his father, however, he first attended the Academy of Commerce and, like his foster father, worked in the Budapest stock market. In 1913 he acquired his first camera, an Ica. In 1914 he served in the Austro-Hungarian army. One year later he began to work seriously as a photographer. He was wounded and for a year was paralyzed. All of his negatives were destroyed in 1918 and he returned to the stock market. In 1922 he received an honorary diploma from the Hungarian Association of Photography. Between 1922 and 1925 he lived in Paris, where he sold prints for 25 francs in order to make a living. During this time he began his collaboration with the Frankfurter Illustrierte, the Berliner Illustrinte, the Nationale de Fiorenza, Sourire, Uhu and Times. In Paris he began his seriesDistortions. In 1927 he had his first solo exhibition and in 1928 met Brassaï, whom he introduced to photography. Kertész acquired his first Leica and did documentaries forVu. In 1933 he married Elisabeth Sali and published his first book on children. Three years later he emigrated to New York and signed a contract with Keystone. In 1937 his began his association with Vogue, Harper’s Bazaar, Collier’s, Coronet, and many other magazines. In 1944 he became an American citizen. He attempted to bring over his negatives from Paris, but more than half were lost in transit. From 1949 to 1962 he worked continuously for Conde Nast.
After a serious disease, Kertész decided to cancel all his contracts and work exclusively as a freelance photographer. In addition to many honors, he received an honorary doctorate from the Royal College of Art and he was also made a member of the French Legion of Honor. Many of Kertész’s photographs, for example The Fork, Esztergom, Swimmer, the Park Bench, or Mondrian’s Atelier, are now among the most famous photographs of this century.
Perhaps more than any other photographer, Andre Kertesz discovered and demonstrated the special aesthetic of the small camera. These beautiful little machines seemed at first hardly serious enough for the typical professional, with his straightforward and factual approach to the subject. Most of those who did use small cameras tried to make them do what the big camera did better; deliberate, analytical description.
Kertesz had never been much interested in deliberate, analytical description; since he had begun photographing in 1912 he had sought the revolution of the elliptical view, the unexpected detail, the ephemeral moment ___ not the epic but the lyric truth. When the first 35mm camera ___ the Leica ___ was marketed in 1925, it seemed to Kertesz that it had been designed for his own eye.
Like his fellow Hungarian Moholy-Nagy, he loved the play between pattern and deep space; the picture plane of his photographs is like a visual trampoline, taut and resilient. In the picture opposite half of the lines converge toward a vanishing point in deep space; the other half knit the image together in a pattern as shallow as a spider web, in which the pedestrian dangles like a fly.
In addition to this splendid and original quality of formal invention, there is in the work of Kertesz another quality less easily analyzed, but surely no less important. It is a sense of the sweetness of life, a free and childlike pleasure in the beauty of the world and the preciousness of sight.
from “Looking at Photographs” by John Szarkowski