Although I had heard of this photographer I was not familiar with his work. Having read the interview between him and Tony Ray Jones reference in the course materials I set out to explore his work and find out more about the man.
Born Gyula Halasz in 1899 in Transylvania, although a Hungarian citizen, he went on to be better known by his pseudonym Brassai, literately meaning ‘from Brasso, his home town. Leaving Hungary for Berlin he eventually settled in Paris
In some respects he came later to photography having started out studying paining and sculpture inBudapest before becoming journalist and subsequently. When he did pick up a camera it was to add to his article. Tutored by fellow countryman Andre Kertesz he went on to produce some beautiful images that captured the spirit of Paris by night. His friend the american author Henry Miller called him the ‘eye of Paris’
His nocturnal scenes capture the topography and built environment of the city and some of the work falls into the urban landscape genre. Many images also capture the citizens and visitors to the city by night and his monochrome image present a view of the city that is instantly recognisable.
He wandered the city streets at night capturing what he saw and seems to have had a clear skill in using the available light to make images that say something fundamental about the city at night.
As I plan my night time shooting I am inspired by this work to try and use the night time light and monochrome to try and recreate some of the engaging emotional mood that Brassai’s work radiates.Although as I write this statement I realise just how challenging that might be!
Whilst it is true that he photographed many other subjects , his images of paris are perhaps paragons of the photographers art in this city.
It is worth noting that in Paris he moved in some very elite circles being friends with Picasso, Matisse, Giacometti, Dali and Genet.
Short Biography found at http://www.britannica.com/biography/Brassai
Short Biography found at: http://www.biography.com/people/brassaï-39060