Thursday 4/28/2005

Gilbert Brassai

Paris in the 1920's and 1930's was the city, more than any other in Europe, where the modern cosmopolitan world was starting to show its alluring face. It had fine shops, leafy boulevards, theatres and variety palaces. It was also a place of refuge for artistic exiles. Somerset Maugham, James Joyce and Wyndham Lewis had settled there. Giacometti, Picasso, Dali and many others had chosen Paris in which to develop their ideas. Among them was a 25-year-old Romanian journalist named Gyula Halasz who had arrived in Paris in 1924. Within a few years he had taken up photography and developed his own aesthetic, entirely self-taught, capturing in an extraordinary visual catalogue the fruits of this labyrinthine city. In 1932 he adopted the pseudonym Brassai and published his first book, Paris de Nuit, a collection of photographs shot during his long nocturnal explorations of the city.

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