The Modern Spirit in Photography
Statement: "He had done all that we've done."
Henri Cartier Bresson
Alongside his innovative approach in many fields across the history of photography, he also contributed in the exposure of any great masters of photography.
One may observe Kertész' career in three main periods: the photographs he shot between 1912-1925 in his homeland constitute the "Hungary Period". This period consists of photographs where the artist photographs the intimate, real images that induce smiles and emotions. These are simple but profound impressions he saw in others as he photographed the place of his birth. Kissing gypsy children, a small boy playing with a lamb, images of his lover Elizabeth... Contrary to his other war photographs, he is more interested in soldiers in peacetime. He is of an inclination that leaves the story -not the cold face of truth- to the viewer. One of his greatest talents has been his capture of "less important" moments.
In 1925, Kertész moves to Paris. This period constitutes the most important part of his artistic development. Throughout his decade as an independent photographer, he shot portraits of some of the most influential artists of the 20th century, such as Leger, Mondrian, Chagall and Brancusi. Influenced by the atmosphere of 1930s, he embarked upon a new series, called distortions, where he created images of nude female body with limbs distorted by concave mirrors.
The most distinguishing of Kertész abilities is his early notice of the specific aesthetics of the camera. He wasn't particularly interested in analytical photography and pursued elliptical photography, unexpected details and images of transient moments instead.
Kertész was influential in the formation of world photography. He shaped documentary photography as an art form and played significant role in the mannerisms of photographers such as Henri Cartier Bresson, Robert Capa and Brassai.
Andor Kertész was one of the three sons of a middle-class family from Budapest. After graduating from Budepest Academy of Commerce, he begun working at the Budapest Stock Exchange. He purchases his first camera with the savings from this occupation. His first photography is dated 1912. He takes this photograph with him when he's drafted in the Austria-Hungarian Army.
Having emigrated to the United States in 1937 in order to escape persecution of the Nazi Germany and to sell his photographs, Kertész works as a commercial photographer for publications such as Look, Harper's Bazaar, Vogue, Town and Country until 1950s but achieves no commercial success. He cancels his contract with his publisher Condé Nast in 1962 and begins working on artistic works, reestablishing his former reputation. In 1964, John Szarkowski, the curator of New York Museum of Modern Art organised a great exhibition that led to revival and remembrance of the great master. Kertész was elected as the guest of honour at Arles International Photography Festival in 1975. He was the subject of many consecutive books and monographs. A year before his passing in 1985, he bequeathed all his negatives and personal documents to the French Ministry of Culture for preservation.