Monday, 5 February 2018

The Blind Musician and the Voyeurs 8

Magdalena Szirtes: András by a bench

Kertész’s work covers some sixty years and one could spend pages studying this or that of his photographs from any period. His sense of the significant is clear from early photographs of his naked brother on a rock, of the same brother walking past the lit wall of a cottage late at night, from the delight and play of the magnificent Paris photographs, and even from those desolate yet beautiful views of New York.
It is remarkable that all the major Hungarian émigré photographers should have established and dominated a genre: Capa as the war photographer par excellence, Moholy-Nagy as the leading Bauhaus formalist and Munkácsi as the establisher of a language for the active human body, whether in sport or fashion. All were pioneers: all are masters.

They are not the only masters of course. The names I mentioned at the beginning should include some of the leading women photographers such as: 

Kata Kálmán: Factory worker 1932

Judit Karász: Light and shadow 1933

Erzsi Landau: Water Works 1931

Éva Besnyö Self Portrait 1931

It may be that my mother had such ambitions as a young woman as she was lured away from home, living, for the first time, in a foreign city that had suddenly had become her capital. Maybe that is what photographs like this, the one she took of my younger brother, András, were preparation for.

It didn’t happen for her. History, health, opportunity and necessity often get in the way. Nor, if you showed me that photograph as by an anonymous stranger, would I have been able to tell you whether it was by a Hungarian or not. For, after all, photography is an international language in most respects, especially today when there are so many photographs taken and discarded each day it probably eclipses the total number of photographs in the world from the Great War up to the invention of the phone camera and the selfie. Not to forget the internet, on the wings of which such photographic images travel in vast flocks, almost blocking out the sun.


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