In the first three decades of the 20th century there was an exceptionally talented photohrapher generation growing in Hungary and in the world, whose works still play an influential role in the history of photography. André Kertész, born in 1894, also belonged to this generation. At his retrospect exhibition in Jeu de Paume in Paris, he was called "the most creative photographer of the 20th century" by the French press.
However, Kertész never considered himself in such a way. As he once said: "I never really strived to create my own style or to invent a complicated method. I just photographed the things I saw in the way I saw them. One needs personal emotions towards one’s subjects to be able to achieve that."
His method worked, anyhow. His unique photos have become very popular both among professionals and the amateur audience. But popularity came rather late: only after his display in MoMa in 1964 was his talent recognised. At the beginning of his career, he made modest success in Hungary, but in New York his works remained quite unnoticed. It was the years he spent in Paris that brough him real success.
The current display is organised along the same geographical line of these three countries, Hungary, France and the United States, the three main stages of his life. Kertész used a Leica to document almost the whole of the 20th century, just like Robert Capa, but while Capa tended to show the bloody side of the world, Kertész had a more personal approach. He struggled for perfection in composing the pictures and capturing the moment, but at the same time there was a kind of intimacy and also a certain easyness in his photos.
Instead of far-off, mystical places, he depicted a world that strikes us as so familiar: happy couples, a swimmer under water, the lights of a city. His photos were unusual in going beyond sheer vision and capturing the real nature of the everyday things, people and places. Paradox as it might seem, the same applies to his distorted acts and his Polaroid shoots from later on: the desire to research, explore and capture the essential nature of things.
André Kertész (1894-1985) was born in Budapest but spent most of his childhood in Szigetbecse at his relatives. In 1914 he was called in but the following year he got wounded and stayed at home recovering for two years. Taking the family advice he started working at the stockmarket, but he never really enjoyed it: he wanted to be a professional photographer. In 1925 he left for Paris, where, immediately upon arrival his camera was stolen. He was only able to buy a new one three years later. He got a Leica and stayed with the brand until the rest of his life. Iin 1933 he married his childhood sweetheart, Erzsébet Salomon, with whom they stayed together until her death in 1977. They moved to New York in 1936, where Kertész worked for several magazines , like Home&Garden, Harper's Bazaar, The Look and Vogue. After her wife died, he became more introverted. In the last years of his life he only took photographs inside his own flat, with a Polaroid Sx-70. These pictures appreared in the album From My Window in 1981.
The current exhibition is open till 10th April in the Fundación Carlos de Amberes in Madrid.