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(1894 – 1985), Hungary

André Kertész Biography

Hungarian born photographer André Kertész's brilliant and innovative career began in 1912 and spanned 73 years. Trained for a career in the financial world, Kertész devoted his earnings and free time to exploring his fascination with photography. His early images of family members and the Hungarian countryside reflect his rich interaction with contemporary Hungarian artists during an amazing period of cultural and artistic growth in Hungary. His work reveals a finely developed vision present from the moment Kertész first picked up a camera. His ability to construct lyrical images, infused with wit and insight would remain a constant throughout his long career.

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In 1925, Kertész moved to Paris to fulfil his dream of pursuing a career as a photographer. After a short period of both artistic and personal struggle, his pioneering vision brought him great success. His approach to the medium helped to define the shape of photojournalism in Europe, and subsequently America. During the next eleven years, Kertész built an extraordinary body of work, influenced by and influencing the many artists with whom he interacted in Paris between the wars.

In an increasingly competitive art world, Kertész found his career began to fade in the mid-1930s. With his wife Elizabeth, he left Paris for New York in 1936 in hopes of reinvigorating his art. From the beginning, his career in the United States proved problematic. His vision, personality, and artistic temperament never found a home in American photojournalism. Unable to return to Europe after the outbreak of WWII, Kertész struggled as he was not able to find steady work through freelancing. He finally secured a staff position working for House & Garden in 1947 where he languished for 15 years creating architectural photographs. Although adored by Conde Nast for shaping the look of the magazine, Kertész defined this period as his 'lost years.'

In 1962, at the age of 68, deeply embittered by his lack of artistic and commercial success in America, Kertész broke his magazine contract to pursue his art; consciously redefining himself as an amateur. For the next 23 years, he photographed with the recaptured enthusiasm of his early years in Hungary and France. By the mid-1970s, he had reestablished himself as a major figure in the fledgling fine art photography world.

Just as Kertész's reputation began to soar his wife and lifelong companion, Elizabeth, died in 1977 after a long battle with lung cancer. Grief stricken, Kertész turned to the Polaroid SX-70 camera to express his pain and sadness. Although the elegant images that he produced are quite personal, Kertész's keen sense of timing and delicate composition transform these photographs into archetypal imagery capable of making deep emotional statements about the world around him. He created a powerful and voluminous body of work.

By the time Kertész passed away in 1985 his work was honoured by artists and photographers, collected by major museums and galleries and studied by scholars. With more than 20 books published in his name. His lifelong battle for recognition had been won.

(Robert Gurbo, Curator of the Estate of André Kertész)

Text courtesy Gallery Fifty One.

André Kertész Featured Artworks

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Stairs, Montmartre by André Kertész contemporary artwork
André KertészStairs, Montmartre, 1926Gelatin silver print on carte postale mounted to vellum
7.94 x 9.21 cm
Bruce Silverstein Contact Gallery
Owl Series (Chimneys), New York by André Kertész contemporary artwork
André KertészOwl Series (Chimneys), New York, 1961Gelatin silver print, printed c. 1969
24 x 16 cm
Gallery Fifty One Contact Gallery
Untitled (laundry lines) by André Kertész contemporary artwork
André KertészUntitled (laundry lines), 1939Gelatin silver print, printed c. 1960
23 x 19 cm
Gallery Fifty One Contact Gallery
Woman at window with chimneys by André Kertész contemporary artwork
André KertészWoman at window with chimneys, 1970Gelatin silver print, printed 1970
25 x 16 cm
Gallery Fifty One Contact Gallery
Sunny Day, New York by André Kertész contemporary artwork
André KertészSunny Day, New York, 1978Gelatin silver print, printed c. 1978
25 x 16 cm
Gallery Fifty One Contact Gallery
August 13 by André Kertész contemporary artwork
André KertészAugust 13, 1979Cibachrome print, printed c. 1979
4 x 4 inches
Bruce Silverstein Contact Gallery
New York by André Kertész contemporary artwork
André KertészNew York, c. 1970sGelatin silver print, printed c. 1970s
10 x 8 inches
Bruce Silverstein Contact Gallery
Washington Square at Night by André Kertész contemporary artwork
André KertészWashington Square at Night, 1954Gelatin silver print, printed c. 1970s
20 x 16 inches
Bruce Silverstein Contact Gallery

André Kertész Recent Exhibitions

Contemporary art exhibition, Group Exhibition, Brocante: La Maison de Chineur Fondée à Cologne en 1940. at Galerie Julian Sander, Cologne
Closed
8 February–29 August 2020 Group Exhibition Brocante: La Maison de Chineur Fondée à Cologne en 1940. Galerie Julian SanderCologne
Contemporary art exhibition, André Kertész, Michael Wolf, Rooftops at Gallery Fifty One Too, Antwerp
Closed
10 September–26 October 2019 André Kertész, Michael Wolf Rooftops Gallery Fifty One TooAntwerp
Contemporary art exhibition, André Kertész, Window Views at Bruce Silverstein, New York
Closed
28 March–4 May 2019 André Kertész Window Views Bruce SilversteinNew York

André Kertész Represented By

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