Saturday, January 13, 2007

Gyula Halász

The first photographer to produce a really large body of night photography work was a Hungarian photographer named Gyula Halász (1899-1984). Two interesting things about Halasz are 1) he was born in Transylvania (how perfect is that?), and 2) as an artist, he worked under the pseudonym Brassai.

Today, almost everyone knows him as Brassai.

("Avenue de l'Observatoire", by Brassai)

While living in Paris, Brassai was drawn to the night. His most famous work, Paris de Nuit ("Paris by Night") has become a classic night photography book. Published in 1933, it features some of his work of the seedier side of Paris nightlife, as well as night photographs of train stations, parks, and bridges over the Seine.

(photo by Brassai)

Micheal Kenna has cited Brassai as a major influence on his work. He even titled one of his photographs in Night Work as "Pont Neuf (Merci, Brassai)".

A modern printing of Paris de Nuit is available on Amazon for under $40. The original can be had for as little as $1000! More of his images are available on Google.

Also, Robert Winkler has a great article on Brassai's shooting technique titled In the Dark: Photography for Night Owls.


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