Vintage Silver Gelatin Print
23 x 18 cm
Brassai - "The man from Brasso”, the university town where he was raised, was born Gyula Halasz of Hungary. He studied art in Budapest and then in Berlin. Son of a university professor who taught French, he had come to Paris first as a small boy, and stayed for a year with his father. The attitude of simple wonder never left him, regardless of subject matter his astonished eye is one of the constant elements of his lens . He arrived again in Paris in 1923, mild, with protuberant eyes and wearing the costume of the ordinary, he was drawn to the neighbourhood of Montparnasse in particular. He prowled the streets, commenting that " My camera sees all different kinds of people and with impartiality fixes them on the negative. Whatever I see and feel about people the camera sees".
In this way he managed to capture something profound about the many personalities that he encountered. He talked of "a time, a place, a moment when a certain picture is possible and how if one fails then, one can no longer return to recapture it".
Indeed Lawrence Durrell recalls a portrait session with Brassai where, once the lighting had been arranged he "sighed and sat down in his chair, for all the world as if he had finished the job and was relaxing for a smoke: But he had not begun. Quietly, absently he began to talk, all the while keeping track of me with that hawk's eye. He was watching me, studying me in a vague and absent minded fashion ....."I want my subject to be as fully conscious as possible - fully aware that he is taking part in an artistic event, an act ..." Suddenly, with a surprisingly agile movement accross the room the maitre came up to me and said:"There, just like that; just what I want. Now!" I had apparently moved into a position which suited his book. He sat down, focused, and told me to look dead into the camera and hold it. Only when he approved of the expression on my face did he fire. And that was all for the day ...."