Monday’s Photography Inspiration – Brassaï

Gyula Halàsz was the photographer know as Brassaï who documented Paris at night in the 1920s.

After studying fine art in Budapest in the late 1920, he travelled to Berlin where he became acquainted Lászlo Moholy- Nagy and the painter Wassily Kandinsky. In 1924, he moved to Paris where he remained for the rest of his life.

He worked as a journalist and adopted the name Brassaï, meaning “From Brassó”. The following year through an art critic friend, he met André Kertész.

Fascinated by the secret life of Paris by night, Brassaï would walk the mysterious city streets for hours at a time until he knew it the back of his hand.

He was one of the first photographers to photograph the city at night, probably because the materials and equipments used during the day would not perform as well during the night. His photographs often featured people, Brassaï has to work as s director, gaining the trust and cooperation of his subjects and getting them to hold a pose.

He photographed the city and his inhabitants: prostitutes and their clients, drinkers, dancers and entertainers, lovers, strippers, transvestites and homosexuals, opium  smokers, restaurant diners and music-hall goers. He also photographed graffiti he found on walls, each telling a little story in itself: a series that later appeared in the surrealist magazine “Le Minotaure” in 1933.

Later in his life, he stopped making photographs and returned to drawing and sculpture.

Although he had a successful 30 years of career, the nocturnal photographs were produced early on in his career.

Paris de Nuit  was published in 1933 and remains a milestone in photographic publishing. He photographed what his friends poets Henry Miller and Leon – Paul Fargue wrote about often accompanying on his nighttime wanderings.

During his career, Brassaï also worked for Harper’s Bazaar, Picture Post, Verve, Lilliput often contributing portraits of his famous artists and writer friends. Even though these portraits remain important documentation of artists in those days, it is for his groundbreaking photographs of Paris by Night that he will be continued to be admired for.

Paris by Night Brassaï 2 Paris by Night Brassaï 3 Paris by Night Brassaï 4 Paris by Night Brassaï 5 Paris by Night Brassaï 6 Paris by Night Brassaï 7 Paris by Night Brassaï 8 Paris by Night Brassaï 9 Paris by Night Brassaï


4 Comments Add yours

  1. I love these inspiration postings – this being one of them: I have just purchased ‘Brassai. Paris’ (Taschen 25th Anniversary Special Editions) because of this post.


    1. pammyv02 says:

      I’m glad that you like them. I’m glad that you have bought the book. I started those posts as I found myself looking for inspiration. Thanks, Pamela

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