In 1985, an anonymous alumnus of the University of Virginia School of Law donated to the Law Library Special Collections a set of fifty black-and-white photographs by André Kertész. Kertész, one of the most celebrated photographers of the twentieth century, produced over seventy years of arresting, exceptionally crafted, often amusing images that reflect the artist’s unending curiosity about life. In 2012, one hundred years after he took his first photograph, the Law Library is pleased to announce a two-year exhibition of Kertész’s work entitled André Kertész: Capturing Paris and New York. This exhibition, displayed at the Law Library, consists of forty-two original images of the two cities that most inspired Kertész and where he spent most of his life. The complete set of fifty prints can be viewed in the online gallery.
André Kertész (1894-1985), a pioneer photojournalist, was a self-taught photographer whose striking, highly imaginative body of work spanned the twentieth century. His earliest surviving photographs, often of the people, animals, and rural landscapes of his native Hungary, reflect his lifelong interest in using the camera to capture and create stories. Moving to Paris in 1925, Kertész quickly established himself in the vibrant community of artists and writers congregated there. He largely eschewed the city’s famous monuments, searching instead for intimate narratives in markets, parks, and bistros. Kertész’s innovative use of shadow, angle, subject, and composition earned him acclaim in France, but he struggled to find similar recognition after moving to New York in 1936. Despite his frustration, he again found stories, capturing some of his most famous images in his new home. In 1962, after twenty-five largely unsatisfying years as a commercial photographer, Kertész decided to devote himself fully to his own work, reinvigorating his artistry and garnering attention from a new generation of American art critics. Active into his 90s, and finally the recipient of the critical praise he long desired, Kertész died just before an exhibit of his work opened at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.