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André Kertész

November 3, 2007 - February 15, 2008
Exhibition Opening / Museum Open House: Saturday, November 3, 2007 at 11:00am-5:00pm

Exhibition Program: Museum Open House, December 1, 2007 at 5:00-7:00pm
Presentation: The Life and Art of André Kertész, December 1, 2007 at 7:00pm
Robert Gurbo, Curator, Estate of André Kertész

Andre Kertesz

"The moment always dictates in my work. What I feel, I do. This is the most important thing for me. Everybody can look, but they don't necessarily see. I never calculate or consider; I see a situation and I know that it's right, even if I have to go back to get the proper lighting." —André Kertész


André Kertész - First and Last brings together the rarely-seen early work from his native Hungary - the famed “Hungarian contacts” with a comprehensive survey of late, great Polaroid work, produced near the end of his life. This exhibition, drawn mostly from the archives of the Kertész Foundation, will be the first comprehensive presentation of many of the late Polaroids, and coincides with the release of a new monograph, André Kertész - The Polaroids, by W.W. Norton & Company.

André Kertész - First & Last is organized by the Southeast Museum of Photography and the Estate of André Kertész, The André and Elizabeth Kertész Foundation; in cooperation with Higher Pictures Inc., Stephen Bulger Gallery, Silverstein Photography and Stephen Daiter Gallery. Curated by Kevin Miller and Robert Gurbo.

André Kertész's (1894-1985) innovative photographic career began in his native Hungary in 1912. His early works reveal an innate ability to construct lyrical images infused with wit and insight. He is revered for his images in which everyday events are transformed into poetic visions. In 1925 he moved to Paris, where his approach to the medium helped to define the look and the role of photojournalism and contemporary art in Europe. Kertész left Paris in 1936 for New York but failed to secure a position as a photojournalist and slipped into obscurity. He continued to build on his extraordinary body of work in New York, but it wasn't until the mid-1970's that Kertész was fully recognized as a seminal figure in the history of photography. His career spanned seventy-three years-from a glass plate camera to the Polaroid SX-70. André Kertész is widely recognized as one of the most important and influential photographers of the twentieth century.

Kertész worked intuitively capturing the poetry of modern urban life with its quiet, often overlooked incidents and odd, comic and bizarre juxtapositions. Combining this seemingly artless spontaneity with a sophisticated understanding of composition; Kertész created a purely photographic idiom that celebrates direct observation of the everyday. "You don't see" the things you photograph, he explained, "you feel them."

Kertész's first major museum exhibition took place at The Art Institute of Chicago in 1946. His first major retrospective was held at the National Gallery of Art in Washington D.C. in 2005. Even now, Kertész is still nothing like as well-regarded in the USA as he should be, with some American histories of photography hardly giving a mention to a photographer who ranks among the handful of the finest of the Twentieth Century. When he died in 1985 at the age of 91, he left behind a body of work hailed worldwide by collectors, curators, historians, and a vast, appreciative public and with over twenty books published in his name.

The Polaroids
Emotionally and physically exhausted after the loss of Elizabeth, his wife and lifelong companion, André Kertész was admittedly a broken man who had lost his direction. His remarkable recovery began when he was inspired by a small glass bust and he embraced the new Polaroid SX-70. In poignant, beautiful, and sometimes haunting photographs, we witness the artist's late life rebirth as Kertész dipped into his reserves one last time, tapping new people, ideas, and tools to generate a whole new body of work. In the process he transformed from a sad old man waiting to die into one who could not wait for the next click of his camera.

Taken in his apartment, just north of New York City's Washington Square, many of the photographs were shot either from his window or in the windowsill. His fertile mind at work, Kertész arranged personal objects into striking still lifes set against city backgrounds, reflected and transformed in glass surfaces. Almost entirely unpublished work, these photographs are a testament to the genius of the photographer's eye as manifested in the simple Polaroid.

Click HERE for press article

Andre Kertesz Andre Kertesz Andre Kertesz
SX 1696, August 29, 1982 Esztergom, 1918 SX 1207, August 17, 1981
Installation Images:
Andre Kertesz Exhibition Installation Image Andre Kertesz Exhibition Installation Image Andre Kertesz Exhibition Installation Image

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The Southeast Museum of Photography is a service of Daytona State College
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Exhibitions and programs at the Southeast Museum of Photography are supported in part by Daytona State College, Volusia ECHO and the State of Florida, Department of State, Division of Cultural Affairs and the Florida Council on the Arts.

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