|Product Details |
University of Chicago Press (Trd)
From Kirkus Reviews
A volume of ebullient missives which track the artist's yearning for self-expression, as well as the details of his thrifty bookkeeping, which staved off starvation and the need to return home. Earnest is the adjective that best describes these bright, readable letters that Brassa (born Gyula Halasz in 1900) sent to his parents over the 20-year time-span of 192040. In 1920 he left Transylvania for Berlin, where he studied drawing at the Academy and wrote articles for the newspapers back home, then moved to Paris, where he eventually earned recognition and a living through the medium of photography. He mingled with both the cosmopolitan and bohemian, including Picasso, who once remarked that Brassa ``owned a gold mine but was exploiting a salt mine'' by choosing photography over the fine arts. Brassa--who expresses no regret over his fate--had begun taking pictures for pleasure, but found immediate success when some of his frank, sensual photographs of the city's lively nocturnal existence (he was fascinated, he said in a letter, by the way the city ``lives and moves'') were gathered and published as Paris at Night in 1931. After that life became easier: He was sought out for commissions, and Alexander Korda, spotting Brassa's eye for line and framing, hired him as a cameraman. In the last letters, however, when Brassa had become established and sought after, he sounds unchanged, still diligently noting what he spends on food and rent, offering a sanitized record of his romances, still self-absorbed but humble, and ever- passionate about the world and his travels. The only difference is a sad note of maturity creeping in, prompted by the news that his parents may have to leave their hometown as a result of imminent war. The biographical sketch that emerges here through practical details compensates for the dearth of reflections about art. (37 drawings and b&w photographs, not seen) -- Copyright ¬1997, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.
Text: English (translation)
Original Language: Hungarian
Nicknamed the "Eye of Paris" by Henry Miller, Brassan was one of the great European photographers of the twentieth century. This volume of letters and photographs, many published for the first time, chronicles the fascinating early years of Brassan's life and artistic development in Paris and Berlin during the 1920s and 1930s.
"[Brassan] is probably the only photographer--at least in France--to have acquired such a vast audience and mastered his material to such a degree that he can express himself with a flexibility and apparent ease that is almost literary in its nature."--Jean Gallien, Photo-Monde
"The letters that Brassan wrote to his parents between 1920 and 1940 chronicle the sometimes painful stages by which this gifted man hauled himself from penury to celebrity."--Peter Hamilton, Times Literary Supplement
"In these proud, protective, occasionally conscience-stricken missives, the young man full of eager dreams emerges as one of the century's pioneering photographers, revered for his lushly atmospheric portraits of Paris after dark."--Elle
"A fascinating insight into how a bright individual slowly found his calling."--Christine Schwartz Hartley, New York Times Book Review