The work of André Kertész (1894–1985) is the focus of the summer exhibition at Kicken Berlin. Kertész is currently being honored with a retrospective, which after stations at Jeu de Paume in Paris and the Fotomuseum Winterthur will be on view at Berlin’s Martin-Gropius-Bau from June 11 on. Kicken Berlin presents numerous vintage prints from Kertész’s creative periods in Hungary, Paris, and New York.
A major individualist of the avant-garde, Kertész always followed his intuition and his feel for the unusual, poetic, and surreal in everyday things. Kertész found his ideal terrain in Paris in 1925. He considered himself an amateur in the best sense, one who shied away from professional perfectionism and trusted his intuition.
Kertész created some of his most well-known works while in the artist circles of Montparnasse: the still life Chez Mondrian (1926) in the artist’s atelier, or the scenes with dancer Magda Förstner, who in the images enters into a grotesque dialogue with sculptures by Hungarian artist Etienne Beöthy. Kertész’s view from above onto the streets and squares of Paris below isolates geometric structures; cropped close-ups draw the viewer’s attention to the graphic effects of light and shadow. In Distortions (beginning in 1932), photographed with the help of a distorting mirror, Kertész alienates female nudes, portraits, and still lifes, transforming them into sensually bizarre forms. In New York, where Kertész lived from 1936 on, he remained a silent observer and finder of images; cropped pictures, reflections, and that familiar gaze from the window or other high elevation remained his preferred motifs.
One of the most famous images in the history of photography deserves particular note: the still life The Fork (1928). In addition to one of the rarest vintage prints in the characteristic postcard format, an early print from the 1930s and two later prints reveal the photographer’s method for always interpreting his work anew.