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Andre Kertesz

From Looking at Photographs: 100 Pictures from the Collection of the Museum of Modern Art

Perhaps more than any other photographer, André Kertész discovered and demonstrated the special aesthetic of the small camera. These beuatiful 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 revelation of the elliptical view...the unexpected detail...the ephemeral moment - not the epic but the lyric truth. When the first 35mm Leica was marketed in 1925, it seemed to Kertész 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 "Montmartre" 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 dabgles like a fly.

In addition to this splendid and original quality of formal invention there is in the work of Kertész another quality less easily analyzed, but surely no less important. It is a sense of the sweetness of life, a free childlike pleasure in the beauty of the world and the preciousness of sight.


 


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