André Kertész is one of the most renowned photographers of the 20th century. Born in 1894 in Budapest, Hungary, he turned down a career in finance in order to explore the medium of photography. In 1925 the artist moved to Paris, where he established friendships many avant-garde artists. With Brassai and Cartier-Bresson he pioneered the use of the small-format camera.
Although Kertész declared himself a realist, the abstraction and dramatic illumination of his images impart a theatrical tone to his still lifes. In the case of Chevaux de Bois, the inverted horses and apparently animated mannequin heads create a strange blend of half-bred women. Like the image of the Minotaure, these centaurial females become more than just mannequins, but weirdly contorted combinations of female and beast.
Another layer is added by the nature of this photograph: the image is in fact a 'photograph of a photograph' by the artist. Kertész took the original photograph in 1929 in Paris before he moved to America in 1936. He then used the image adding an ironic 'Greetings Kertész' onto the cart. The reappropriation of the image is yet another call to the Surrealist and Modernist appropriation of objects, inspired my such seminal works as Marcel Duchamp's Fountain (1917). In this case, Kertész recreates a work by changing the nature of his original print. This process brings to the fore questions of originality, reality, and the credibility of the so-called 'realist' image.
Inscribed 'BL20778HL' as well as
17 1/2 x 23 1/2 4535, 10197' in pencil on verso
Chevaux de Bois
Vintage Gelatin Silver Print
24.5 x 18.2 cms (9.63 x 7.15 ins)
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