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HomeContents > People > Photographers > Brassaï

Names:
Born: Gyula Halász 
Dates:  1899, 9 September - 1984, 8 July
Born:  Transylvania (now Romania) - Brasso, Siebenburgen (North of Bucharest)
Active:  France
 
  
French sculptor, writer, draughtsman and photographer.
 
There are currently over 1,400 high resolution scans of the work of Brassaï held by the Réunion des musées nationaux (RMN) - Agence photographique (http://www.photo.rmn.fr/cf/htm/home.aspx) which brings together material from French national museums. The original images are housed within a number of collections including those of the Pompidou Centre and the private collection of Mme Brassaï. The negatives, contacts and prints that he took on Picasso were given by Mme Brassaï to the Musée Picasso.
 
Through his career he worked with a number of different galleries. In the late 1960s, Brassai worked with Robert Schoelkopf, then Lee Witkin and then Marlborough Gallery in the 1970s, but for over the past twenty years the exclusive dealer of Brassai‘s work has been Edwynn Houk.
 
The status of the Estate is unclear at present but Agnes de Gouvion St. Cyr is the executor and she is also Inspecteur Generale for Photography in the French Ministry of Culture.
 
[Special thanks to Stuart Alexander for his advice on this.]

Preparing biographies


Biography provided by Focal Press 
  
Motivated by Kertész and influenced by the surrealists, Brassaï contrived stylized tableaus of risqué Paris night life that revealed the subconscious "social fantastic," a place of the erotic and dangerous that lay outside of mainstream society. Dubbed "The Eye of Paris," Brassaï subjects re-enacted their concealed activities for his camera and flash, delivering a theatrical version of a candid moment that demystified and humanized the people from the world of night. 
  
(Author: Robert Hirsch - Independent scholar and writer) 
  
Michael Peres (Editor-in-Chief), 2007, Focal Encyclopedia of Photography, 4th edition, (Focal Press) [ISBN-10: 0240807405, ISBN-13: 978-0240807409] 
(Used with permission) 
  

Further research

 
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Carl Uytterhaegen
Brassai, Arles, France 
1976
 
  
Family history 
  
If you are related to this photographer and interested in tracking down your extended family we can place a note here for you to help. It is free and you would be amazed who gets in touch. 
  
alan@luminous-lint.com
 
  
 
  

Visual indexes

 
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Visual indexes for this photographer are available for subscribers.There is so much more to explore when you subscribe. 
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Internet biographies

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Wikipedia has a biography of this photographer.Show on this siteGo to website
Getty Research, Los Angeles, USA has an ULAN (Union List of Artists Names Online) entry for this photographer. This is useful for checking names and they frequently provide a brief biography. Go to website
Grove Art Online (www.groveart.com) has a biography of this artist. 
[NOTE: This is a subscription service and you will need to pay an annual fee to access the content.]
Show on this siteGo to website
The Cleveland Museum of Art, USA has a biography on this photographer. [Scroll down the page on this website as the biography may not be immediately visible.]Show on this siteGo to website
The International Photographers Hall of Fame has provided a biography.Show on this siteGo to website
 

Internet resources

Terms and Conditions

 
Réunion des musées nationaux (RMN) - Agence photographique 
http://www.photo.rmn.fr ... 
The photographic agency for images held by the French national museums. Excellent material for Man Ray, Brassai and many others. 
  
 

Printed biographies

The following books are useful starting points to obtain brief biographies but they are not substitutes for the monographs on individual photographers.

 
• Auer, Michele & Michel 1985 Encyclopedie Internationale Des Photographes de 1839 a Nos Jours / Photographers Encylopaedia International 1839 to the present (Hermance, Editions Camera Obscura) 2 volumes [A classic reference work for biographical information on photographers.] 
  
• Beaton, Cecil & Buckland, Gail 1975 The Magic Eye: The Genius of Photography from 1839 to the Present Day (Boston and Toronto: Little, Brown & Company) p.149 [Useful short biographies with personal asides and one or more example images.] 
  
• Capa, Cornell (ed.) 1984 The International Center of Photography: Encyclopedia of Photography (New York, Crown Publishers, Inc. - A Pound Press Book) p.80-81 
  
• Evans, Martin Marix (Executive ed.) 1995 Contemporary Photographers [Third Edition] (St. James Press - An International Thomson Publishing Company) [Expensive reference work but highly informative.] 
  
• Fernandez, Horacio (ed.) 2000 Fotografía Pública: Photography in Print 1919-1939 (Aldeasa) p.65-67 [This Spanish exhibition catalogue is one of the best sources for illustrations of photomontage and book design for the period between the two World Wars.] 
  
• International Center of Photography 1999 Reflections in a Glass Eye: Works from the International Center of Photography Collection (New York: A Bulfinch Press Book) p.210 [Includes a well written short biography on Brassaï with example plate(s) earlier in book.] 
  
• Lenman, Robin (ed.) 2005 The Oxford Companion to the Photograph (Oxford: Oxford University Press)  [Includes a short biography on Brassaï.] 
  
• Weaver, Mike (ed.) 1989 The Art of Photography 1839-1989 (New Haven and London: Yale University Press) p.452-453 [This exhibition catalogue is for the travelling exhibition that went to Houston, Canberra and London in 1989.] 
  
• Witkin, Lee D. and Barbara London 1979 The Photograph Collector’s Guide (London: Secker and Warburg) p.94-95 [Long out of print but an essential reference work - the good news is that a new edition is in preparation.] 
  
 

Useful printed stuff

If there is an analysis of a single photograph or a useful self portrait I will highlight it here.

 
• Gruber, Renate and L. Fritz Gruber 1982 The Imaginary Photo Museum (New York: Harmony Books) p.242 
  
• Naef, Weston 1995 The J. Paul Getty Museum - Handbook of the Photographic Collection (Los Angeles: J. Paul Getty Museum) p.201 
  
• Naef, Weston 2004 Photographers of Genius at the Getty (Los Angeles: J. Paul Getty Museum) [For this photographer there is a description and three sample photographs from the Getty collection. p.132-135] 
  
• Sobieszek, Robert A. and Deborah Irmas 1994 the camera i: Photographic Self-Portraits (Los Angeles: LACMA - Los Angeles County Museum of Art) p.209, Plate 49 [When the Audrey and Sydney Irmas collection was donated to LACMA - Los Angeles County Museum of Art in 1992 the museum gained a remarkable collection of self portraits of notable photographers. If you need a portrait of Brassaï this is a useful starting point.] 
  
• Szarkowski, John 1973 Looking at Photographs: 100 Pictures from the Collection of The Museum of Modern Art (New York: The Museum of Modern Art) p.110 [Analyzes a single photograph by Brassaï.] 
  

Collections

Photographic collections are a useful means of examining large numbers of photographs by a single photographer on-line. 
  

 
In the 1990 survey of 535 American photographic collections Brassaï was represented in 54 of the collections. Source: Andrew H. Eskind & Greg Drake (eds.) 1990 Index to American Photographic Collections [Second Enlarged Edition] (Boston, Massachusetts: G.K. Hall & Co.) 
  
 

Quotations

The wit and wisdom.

 
"..the thing that is magnificent about photography is that it can produce images that incite emotion based on the subject matter alone."
"In the absence of a subject with which you are passionately involved, and without the excitement that drives you to grasp it and exhaust it, you may take some beautiful pictures, but not a photographic oeuvre."
"The purpose of art is to raise people to a higher level of awareness than they would otherwise attain on their own."
"There are many photographs which are full of life but which are confusing and difficult to remember. It is the force of an image which matters."
 
  
 
  
 
  
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