Andre Kertesz

Andre Kertesz Research Paper ? Andre Kertesz was a Hungarian-born photographer who made significant contributions to the art of composition in the photographic medium. His work cannot be pinpointed to a particular style. At first, his unique take on composition, and different camera angles, was rejected by many critics. But, through his perseverance and self-belief, he became known as one of the greatest photographers of the twentieth century. In Budapest, while Andre was only fifteen years old, his father passed away. This had a major impact on his teen years.

Luckily, his mother and uncle were very supportive and helped him get through that dark area in his life. Andre rejected formal education so they also homeschooled him for a period of time. He had two brothers named Eugenio and Imre. In order to support the family, Imre became a stockbroker. He was also quite successful at it. Eugenio left Budapest to pursue becoming an engineer in Argentina. Andre had a deep admiration for his brother Eugenio. He regarded him as his favorite model and his best friend. They spent the majority of their time together and many portraits were taken of Eugenio; also known as Jeno.

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While living in Buenos Aires, Jeno wrote a letter an interesting letter to Andre. An excerpt from that letter reads, “We are predestined for something, and sooner or later this destiny will come to pass… What delights me most is that you have become a photographer…this way, you will be a happy man. ” (Bourcier preface 2). I think that this statement is significant because Jeno foreshadowed Andre’s future success and showed complete support for the path that his brother chose to take. Kertesz’s first photo dates back to 1912. It was titled “Boy Sleeping”.

He began to develop his unique style of photography by simply taking strolls through his favorite places. He really enjoyed visiting the local public gardens and parks in Budapest. The “Boy Sleeping” was taken while an eighteen year old Kertesz was visiting his family’s grocery shop. There happened to be a young man in the shop who had slowly drifted off to sleep while leaning against the wall and reading the newspaper. Andre captured this moment and made something interesting out of what originally appeared to be boring (Bourcier 1). He did so by breaking he traditional rules of photography by making the boy appear slightly out of focus and framing him at an unflattering angle. From this concept, it was clear that Kertesz was going to be anything but an average photographer. In 1915 Andre was drafted into the Austro-Hungarian army. He was very ambitious and volunteered himself for the front line of battle. Kertesz didn’t want to be on a hiatus from photography so he brought along with him a small Goerz Tessac camera and a 75mm lens. He decided that he was going to document the war from the trenches but, yet again, not in the traditional sense.

He didn’t direct his focus on documenting the action or attempting to glorify the war in any way. Instead, he wanted to display the mundane day to day activities that the soldiers had to put up with. This included sitting around doing nothing for hours at a time, marching, smoking, and playing cards. Unfortunately, Andre contracted typhoid fever from a wound sustained to his left hand on the Polish front of the war. He was partially paralyzed for nearly a year and a half but his creative spirit prevailed by still taking photographs. One of which was the “Underwater Swimmer” (Bourcier preface 3).

This image is considered to have “popularized the aesthetics of reflections (mirrors, glass balls, the chrome detailing on cars), which became a leitmotif of the Modern Movement. ” (Bourcier 5). “The modern movement was a series of radically new ideas in photography… that break away from the conventions of their day”. The origins of this movement are considered to be developed from the photo-secession which was founded by Alfred Stieglitz in 1902 (“Inventing Modernism”). In other words, Kertesz was on the cutting edge of photography by incorporating radical ideas into his artwork.

After the war, Andre took up a full-time job as a commodity exchange. He didn’t particularly care for being stuck on a schedule doing the same thing every day. To escape from the monogamy, he would visit Jeno whenever he could take time off from work. They would meet on the banks of the Danube River where Andre could relax and take pictures of his favorite model. His favorite subjects were things found in everyday life. He loved the aesthetic of the human body; people’s hands in particular (Bourcier preface 4). There is one photograph in particular that stands out in my mind in regards to people’s hands.

The title of this photo is “Paul Arma’s Hands, Paris”. Arma was a pianist and composer who Kertesz photographed around 1927. The picture was described as “An unconventional portrait, its complex composition aims to render the spirit of the forms independently of the sitter’s psychology”. This image was used on an invitation to advertise Paul Arma’s concert at the Salon of Ultra Modern Art (Bourcier 13). In 1928, Kertesz started to use the Leica camera. The advantages of the camera were that it featured a view-finder, it was light weight, and that it used film on rolls rather than plates (Bourcier preface 6).

One of his first successful images created with the Leica was titled “Meudon, France”. Kertesz considered it a “miraculous” snapshot and was excited about the potential of his new camera (Bourcier 23). “Medon, France” depicts a well-dressed man in the foreground carrying a large package wrapped in newspaper. To the left and right of the image are old decaying buildings. In the background a steam-engine in passing over a large bridge that appears to be under construction at its base. Though candid, the image is composed beautifully; almost as if every single aspect had been meticulously placed.

This concept opened the door for photojournalism to blossom. The idea of taking such powerful images, candidly, with a light weight and easy to use camera was revolutionary. Surrealism came naturally to Kertesz. His series titled “Distortions” successfully depicts that statement. “Distortions” was created by taking pictures that incorporated distorting mirrors. Andre took pictures of two young Russian models named Najinskaya Verackhatz and Nadia Kasine for this project. He had them pose nude in front of the distorting mirrors and he was able to produce wonderfully complex images (Bourcier 36).

In each photograph different parts of the body would stand out as the main subject. Whether it was an elongated nose, the curvature of a breast, a protruding rib bone, or a wide hip; every distorted variation put a unique compositional spin on the image. Kertesz used the concept of visual rhyme in his photograph titled “Satiric Dancer”. There is an interesting story behind this photograph. Magda Forstner was a cabaret dancer who happened to be in Paris visiting the sculptor Istvan Beothy. Kertesz was present at Beothy’s studio while Magda was there.

He only had the opportunity to take three photographs of her. The setting was a room with two pieces of artwork on the walls, a couch, and a small table with one of Beothy’s standing on it. Kertesz took one photograph of Magda standing in the doorway then one of her sitting on the sofa. He positioned the camera at a “downward perspective and a wide angle to accentuate the dynamic of the composition that is all angles” (Bourcier 12). When Andre was about to shoot this third and final photograph he asked Magda to think about the sculpture that was on the small table near her.

She contorted her body into a harmonious representation of the sculpture and Kertesz captured the moment. This brought about the rhyming of the contortion of her body with the contortion of Beothy’s artwork. Kertesz was able to break down the barriers of what was considered correct and what was incorrect in regards to composition and styling. Andre didn’t let the traditional rules of photography effect any of his decisions while designing a shot. He felt that the best way to shoot your subject was to follow your intuition when framing the shot.

On September 28, 1985, Kertesz died in his New York home. He left behind an incredible body of work in excess of 100,000 negatives; many of which have yet to be revealed (Bourcier 11). Kertesz opened the world’s eyes to a new style of photography that let self-expression prosper. Henri Cartier-Bresson was quoted as saying “Each time Andre Kertesz shutter clicks, I feel his heart beating”. Bibliography Bourcier, Noel. Andre Kertesz. London: Phaidon, 2006. Print. “Inventing Modernism. ” The American Museum of Photography. N. p. , 2010. Web. 5 May 2011. .

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