André Kertész: Truth and Distortion in photography

The work of 20th century Hungarian photographer André Kertész as viewed by the Atlas Gallery is polarised by Truth and Distortion.

From the Distortion series
From the Distortion series

This is both the title and thematic exploration of a new exhibition of some 400 signed prints.

If you can handle the truth, you’ll find it in the upstairs gallery. It will include images that illustrate the periods, places and subjects of Kertész’s work, such as Mondrian’s Pipe and Glasses (1926), other still life, shots of New York and Paris, and autobiographical images of his home and wife Elizabeth.

Tulipe Melancolique, 1939
Tulipe Melancolique, 1939

Head downstairs for a more distorted outlook, focusing on a body of work produced in the early 1930s.

Nudity and convex mirrors were clearly a hit with Kertész. You can also find a selection of early reference prints down here, used in his 1976 book, Distortions. 

Paris, 1926, Dog out of Window
Paris, 1926, Dog out of Window

Kertész’s longstanding assistant Nicolas Ducrot, who owns the displayed collection, played an important part in bringing the prints to bear. Many show his manuscript annotations and crops.

Atlas Gallery recognises that to many Kertész is the founder of the photo essay, having earned his living as a photographer, primarily through commissions for magazines and under contract to Condé Nast Publishing for 20 years of his career.

A nude from the Distortion series
A nude from the Distortion series

Although the Distortion series belies some of the formalities of the photojournalistic work, it is in the main innovative and owes some of its inspiration to the Surrealist influences of the time.

Overall his work lies somewhere between Modernism and documentary, but it hops around quite a bit between the two, so it’s probably best not to think about it like this.

Pipe and Glasses
Pipe and Glasses

André Kertész: Truth and Distortion Master Prints from a Private Collection will be showing from 11 April -25 May at The Atlas Gallery, 49 Dorset Street, W1U 7NF

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