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André Kertész

1894 Budapest
1985 New York

André Kertész was born to a Jewish family in Budapest on July 2, 1894. Kertész was an employee at the Budapest Stock Market and at the same time started to teach himself photography. During his military service (1914-15) in the Austro-Hungarian army, he took photographs on the front with his Leica, until he ended his war service, seriously wounded. In 1917 he published his first photograph in the journal "Érdekes Ujság"; however, he continued to take photographs as an amateur.
His career in photography began in Paris, where he moved in 1925. There he associated with artist circles and met for example Man Ray, André Breton, Robert Capa and Mondrian. He produced portraits of the Paris bohème and worked as a free-lance photographer. His pictures appeared in the large magazines and newspapers of France, Germany and England, and in addition could be seen in important international exhibitions. André Kertész also published his own books of photographs starting in 1933 – his best-known book, "Paris vu par André Kertész", appeared in 1934 and shows clearly how much he loved the city.
André Kertész was a versatile photographer who never restricted himself to one single style. Many works show his ability to set essentially unspectacular, everyday objects masterfully into pictures – however, with photographs such as "The Fork," he created a still life in the style of New Objectivity. On the other hand, "Mondrian’s Pipe and Glasses" follows rather constructivistic ideas. There are also photographs influenced by surrealism, for example "Distorsions".
In 1936 André Kertész emigrated to New York, where he hired himself out as a free-lance photographer. The tense political situation meant that after 1939, because of his background, he was deemed an "enemy alien" and stood under a publication ban. In 1944 Kertész became an American citizen and once again worked for the press as a successful freelancer. He had two large individual exhibits in the US and won several prizes for his work. André Kertész still felt so connected to Paris that in 1984, he bequeathed his negatives and personal documents to the French state.
André Kertész died in New York on September 28, 1985.

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