Fundación MAPFRE presents the most complete exhibition of the work of photographer Brassaï in Madrid

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Peter Galassi
31/05/2018 > 02/09/2018
Fundación MAPFRE Recoletos Hall. Paseo de Recoletos 23, 28004 Madrid, Spain

Peter Galassi

Peter Galassi is a graduate of Harvard University and a doctor of Art History and Archeology from Columbia University. Galassi is a scholar and curator whose principal fields are photography and nineteenth-century French art. He was Chief Curator of Photography at The Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) for two decades from 1991 to 2011. Having begun as a curatorial intern in 1974, and joining the photography department seven year later, he was only the fourth person to serve as Chief Curator when he took over from John Szarkowski in 1991. At MoMA he curated more than 40 exhibitions including Before Photography: Painting and the Invention of Photography (1981), Pleasures and Terrors of Domestic Comfort (1991), American Photography 1890–1965 (1995), Cindy Sherman: The Complete Untitled Film Stills (1997), and major surveys of Henri Cartier-Bresson (2010), Roy DeCarava (1996), Aleksandr Rodchenko (1998), Andreas Gursky (2001), Lee Friedlander (2005) and Jeff Wall (2007). Since leaving MoMA, he has been working on independent writing and curatorial projects, including the exhibition Robert Frank in America at Stanford’s Cantor Arts Center (2014). He is currently curator a Brassaï retrospective open at Fundación MAPFRE in Barcelona, 2018.

Gyulá Halász - Brassaï

Brassaï (pseudonym of Gyulá Halász, 1899 - 1984) moved to Paris in 1924 to devote himself to painting, after studying art in Budapest and Berlin. But very soon he found a stable source of income in the sale of articles, cartoons and photographs to newspapers and other illustrated media, and left aside the drawing and painting, disciplines for which, however, he would still feel a great devotion and that he would go back to throughout his life.

The city of Paris became the main theme of his work: his day-to-day life, and especially his nocturnal appearance and vitality. His extraordinary treatment of light and the subtlety of the details captured in his images made him famous; With these tools, Brassaï obtained snapshots that would become cultural icons, symbols of an era and testimonies of his irresistible fascination for the French capital.

His work soon reached an unquestionable recognition in the circles of artistic photography, but also in the tourist industry and commercial photographic circuits.

On June 12, 1940, two days before the German army entered Paris, Brassaï left the city. But he returned in October and remained there for the rest of the occupation. The fact of refusing to collaborate with the Germans, prevented him from photographing openly, so Picasso's commission to photograph his sculptures became his only source of income. In addition, and after a parenthesis that had lasted twenty years, Brassaï redrew and sculpt again, and began to explore his remarkable talent as a writer.

From 1945, thanks to the numerous commissions of the American magazine Harper's Bazaar, he returned to devote part of his time to photography and began to travel regularly, Edinburgh, Spain, Morocco, Italy, Greece, Turkey, are some of the places that he visited during these years.

At the beginning of the 1950s Brassaï was already a fully recognized photographer. In 1955, the Art Institute of Chicago hosted the first of its individual exhibitions at an American museum, which would later travel to other North American cities. A year later, the MOMA in New York inaugurated Language of the Wall. Parisian Graffiti Photographed by Brassaï.

His work was recognized as one of the cornerstones of the new photographic current, which emerged between the two world wars. Discovering the potential of everyday scenes and recovering the conception of photography as a creative medium, generating images of a strong poetic and visual evocation that transcended its merely documentary nature.

Away from the emulation of the traditional arts of photography at the beginning of the century, these artists highlighted the artistic potential of the discipline. When this tradition began to be celebrated in the seventies, Brassaï's work was recognized as one of its great references, becoming a fundamental figure in the history of twentieth-century photography.



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