Martin Munkácsi was born in Kolozsvar, Austro-Hungary on May 18, 1896 and died July 13, 1963, in New York. Munkácsi was a Hungarian newspaper writer and photographer whose innovation lay in his meticulously posed sports photographs that required immense skill both artistically and technically. His great break into the world of photography was born of a rather unusual turn of events. Whilst out one day Munkácsi witnessed two men having a fight and he began photographing the activity. One of the men died as a result of his injuries and Munkácsi's photographs were used as evidence in court earning him considerable notoriety. This unusual publicity flung Munkácsi into the limelight, and it was through this that he managed to obtain a job in Berlin in 1928. The job consisted of working for the Berliner Illustrrirte Zeitung and was where his first ever photograph was published.
Beginning in the 1930s, the naturally innovative Munkácsi introduced the snapshot aesthetic which was to revolutionise photography forever. His ability to capture spontaneity with such an acute understanding of style, pattern, form and framing demonstrates his uniquely sophisticated visual sense and understanding of image making, which was to become so influential to so many subsequent photographers. Beauty gained a new level in Munkácsi's images. This can be clearly seen in his seminal fashion shoot for Harper’s Bazaar in 1933 with Lucile Brokaw running down the beach with her cape billowing behind her; the first image of the all-American beauty in action. It was a complete break from the staid and static images that emerged from studio shoots, and his approach was enhanced by his collaboration with the editor-in-chief Carmel Snow, and her other famous discovery, the graphic designer Alexey Brodovitch, who knew how to harness Munkácsi's ground-breaking images. Munkácsi knew not only the power of the image, but also the power of the commercial image: “A picture is not worth a thousand words, it’s worth a thousand bucks.”
"A PICTURE IS NOT WORTH A THOUSAND WORDS, IT’S WORTH A THOUSAND BUCKS."
- Martin Munkácsi
Munkácsi's death was surrounded in poverty and controversy. Several universities and museums refused to accept his archives, and asa result they were scattered all around the world.