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Brassai: Paris by Night

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My recollection, which may be wrong, of the earlier edition (probably from the 60s or 70s) is that it was printed on glossy paper, but one reviewer is of the opinion that the paper used here is more matte. This uniquely modern perspective has inspired a new generation of art critics and historians, and the centenary of Brassaï’s birth was the catalyst for major retrospective exhibitions at the Pompidou Centre in Paris, the Houston Museum of Fine Arts, the National Gallery in Washington, and the Hayward Gallery in London.

All quotes and shortened quotes are from the book and credited as: ©Brassaï: Paris by Night (Flammarion, 2011). The world that Brassaï had photographed with such adoration was gone, though he continued to live and work in France until his death in 1984. The photograph feels surreal, and at the same time her situation speaks of strife, of some form of hardship, of a lonely existence at the edge of night.The back alleys, metro stations, and bistros he photographed are at turns hauntingly empty or peopled by prostitutes, laborers, thugs, and lovers. Ein Buch für die, die sich mit Fotokunst auseinandersetzen und die Zeit zwischen den Kriegen interessant finden. This book totally took my mind off my surroundings though and I was stuck in a reverie about summer and travel plans.

tall x 10-5/8"; black cover; lamination is lifting from cover; crease along top 6" front cover and light corresponding creases to first 2 pp; ca. Brassaï’s camera lingered on prostitutes, gang members, and the queer community in the interwar era—he gained entrance to Le Monocle, a lesbian nightclub in Montmartre; and Suzy’s, a brothel, among other underground venues. A Monastic Brothel, Rue Monsieur-le-Prince, 1931In his quest to cover every facet of Paris, Brassaï also immersed himself in the city’s darker side. He captured the grittier aspects of the city, but also documented ballet, opera and high society, including his friends and contemporaries such as Pablo Picasso, Salvador Dalí and Henri Matisse.The introduction, by Paul Morand, is elegant and does a good job of describing what Paris was like at that time. Thus, as well as a wonderful collection of very evocative images, the book can act as a reminder of the importance in engaging the intellect to make such images. The tiny versions at the back of the book in which each scene is identified are so much sharper with higher contrast than the photographs in the body of the book. After the success of his book, 'Paris De Nuit' (1933) he produces a more sanitised vision of nocturnal Paris. Brassaï's famous, exquisite portrait of Paris under cover of the night; of humanity as light beaming out of holes punched in the darkness, simultaneously standing out against and hiding within the evening gloom.

To calculate the overall star rating and percentage breakdown by star, we don’t use a simple average. Working as a journalist by day, by night he roamed the streets of the capital and visited its bistros, sharing moments in the lives of the prostitutes and peddlers, down-and-outs, and illicit lovers who lived on the margins of society.

The roads ebb by like frozen boiling rivers, through the blinding lights all effervescent yellow forever dimming upwards, hawking wares like glittering salvations from the heart of the night's pure diversion from diurnal life. Obliged to use photography for his assignments, he initially disliked the medium, but eventually started to appreciate its aesthetic capabilities.

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