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collections > permanent collections > photographs > andre kertesz
Andre Kertesz
(American, b. Hungary, 1894-1985)
Circus, Budapest, May 19, 1920 from Hungarian Memories Series, 1920
Vintage gelatin silver print, 9” x 7 1/2”
Permanent loan from St. Francis College (82.001.003)

André Kertész is regarded as a pioneer of photojournalism.  Walking the streets of Budapest, Paris, and New York City, Kertész sought out candid vignettes from everyday life.  Circus, Budapest, May 19, 1920 is an early photograph, and depicts a man and a woman peering through a small hole in order to see the spectacle behind the barrier.  Unaware of the photographer, they are as much the subject of our gaze as the unseen circus is of theirs.  With a certain irony, Kertész sums up the street and other public spaces as sites in which everyone present is both covert audience and unwitting performer alike. 

Born in Budapest, Kertész made his first photographs while still a child.  After serving in the Austro-Hungarian army during World War I, he eventually made his way to Paris, where he gained a reputation for innovative photographs made with a Leica snapshot camera.  A job offer from New York City brought the artist to the United States in 1936, where he ultimately remained due to increasing pre-war tension in Europe.  For many years, Kertész worked as a freelance photographer in New York, nearly forgotten until his work was rediscovered in the 1970s.