|André Kertész (1894-1985) is renowned for the exceptional contribution he made to the visual language of 20th-century photography with his poetic work. Foam presents a retrospective of his oeuvre, examining his early work created in his homeland of Hungary, his time in Paris – where between 1925 and 1936, he was a leading figure in avant-garde photography – through to New York, where he lived for nearly fifty years. In an interview, Kertész once said: “Everybody can look, but they don’t necessarily see.” Mirroring Life explores his creative capacity, using unusual compositions to create a new perspective of reality. It is an homage to the photographer whom Henri Cartier-Bresson viewed as one of his mentors.
At a very early age André Kertész was drawn to the photography he saw in illustrated magazines as a child. In 1912, after his study in Business Administration, he bought his first camera from his first pay cheque. His hobby quickly gained the upper hand. He photographed farmers, gypsies and landscapes and made playful compositions featuring his brothers as extras. Even when he was called into the army in 1914, he took his camera with him. However, the photographs he took during the war sooner resemble a personal diary than a news report. In 1925, he left Hungary and moved to Paris. More than other photographers of his time, such as Jacques Henri Lartigue, who focused on his own flamboyant lifestyle, or Brassaï, who voyeuristically captured the cabarets and forbidden temptations of nocturnal Paris, Kertész worked as an anonymous flâneur. He observed the city, taking in its cafés and parks, or simply looked out of the window of his flat. He photographed his artist friends, shop windows, posters and symbols on the street, shadows cast by trees, passers-by, children playing, a pair of glasses laying on a table – simple things, but always captured from a unique perspective, through which he found poetry in the mundane.