Brassaï (Gyula Halász)

French, born Hungary (Brasov, Hungary [now Romania], 1899 - 1984, Côte d'Azur, France)


ca. 1932
photograph | gelatin silver print
Not on view at this time; find out where you can see works from our collection at locations around the Bay Area while our building is closed for expansion
  • Untitled [Couple kissing]

    Brassaï (Gyula Halász), Untitled, ca. 1932; gelatin silver print, 11 5/16 in. x 8 9/16 in. (28.73 cm x 21.75 cm); Collection SFMOMA, Gift of Helen Crocker Russell and William H. and Ethel W. Crocker Family Funds; © Estate of G. Brassaï

In 1924 Gyula Hasálz moved to Paris, where he took the name Brassaï (after his Hungarian hometown, Brassó) and began working as a journalist. In letters home he described his busy life writing and illustrating various publications as well as his growing interest in photographing lovers, brothels, prostitutes, and other "phantoms of the night."

By the time Brassaï published Paris by Night (1933), his first book of photographs, he had developed a style that combined literal documentary and the imaginary. Brassaï's deep shadows transform the Parisian street scene and heighten the drama of the kissing couple. The formal composition recalls his training as a sculptor and painter, while the atmosphere of desire points to the ongoing influence of Surrealism. Brassaï went on to produce more books on Paris in addition to series on graffiti, nudes, and artists.

11 5/16 in. x 8 9/16 in. (28.73 cm x 21.75 cm)
Acquired 1980
Collection SFMOMA
Gift of Helen Crocker Russell and William H. and Ethel W. Crocker Family Funds
© Estate of G. Brassaï


men, women, streets, kissing, night, shadows

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