Artist Biography - Brassaī
Brassaï’s was born Halász Gyula in Braşov, Hungary in 1899 to an Armenian mother and Hungarian father.
As a child they lived in Paris while his father taught at the Sorbonne but in the 1910s the family resettled in Budapest. There the young man studied painting and sculpture at the Academy of Fine Arts until he enlisted in the Austro-Hungarian cavalry to fight in the Fi...rst World War.
Brassaï took his name from the town of his birth, Brasso, in Transylvania, then part of Hungary, later of Roumania, and famous as the home of Court Dracula. He studied art at the academies of Budapest and Berlin before coming to Paris in the mid-twenties. He was completely disinterested in photography, if not scornful of it, until he saw the work being done by his acquaintance Andre Kertesz, which inspired him to take up the medium himself.
In the early thirties he set about photographing the night of Paris, especially at its more colorful and more disreputable levels. The results this project 'a fascinatingly tawdry collection of prostitutes, pimps, madams, transvestites, apaches, and assorted cold-eyed pleasure-seekers' was published in 1933 as Paris de Nuit, one of the most remarkable of all photographic books - it was received to great acclaim.Paris by Night was also a technical achievement. In an era of slow lenses and even slower film, few photographers ventured out after dark. Brassaï relished the darkness and by trial and error learned to get the night shots he was after. He invented ingenious tricks to help him, like gauging extended exposure times by how long it took for him to smoke a Gauloises.
With the publication of Paris de nuit the name "Brassaï" became famous and he was soon mingling with high society, photographing intellectuals, politicians and the wealthy. This new fame also enhanced his status with his circle of café pals, including Salvador Dalí, Pablo Picasso, Henri Matisse, Alberto Giacometti and Jean Genet.
Brassaï's photographs brought him international fame. In 1948, he had a one-man show at the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in New York City, which travelled to George Eastman House in Rochester, New York; and the Art Institute of Chicago, Illinois. MoMA exhibited more of Brassai's works in 1953, 1956, and 1968.
Brassaï's work is held in the following public collections, Museum of Modern Art, New York City: 112 prints (as of June 2018), Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam: 9 prints (as of November 2018), Tate, London: 30 prints (as of June 2018) and Victoria and Albert Museum, London: 383 items (as of June 2018).