Brassaï

1899-1984

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Who is Brassaï?

Without a doubt, one of the most important artists ever to come out of Hungary is Brassaï, a true pioneer of photography whose work has inspired countless enthusiastic artists and fans of the medium. The “Eye of Paris”, as his friend Henry Miller often called him, was a remarkable man who guided the course of photography. The highlight of his career was the series of images of Paris at night in the early 1930s, when he experimented and eventually established ground rules for photographing outdoors in the dark. In addition to his seminal photographic works, Brassaï was also a successful sculptor, filmmaker, poet and painter, one of the most renowned artists of the inter-war period.

Status, price and estimation of the photographer Brassaï

Price of the artist’s photographs at auction: 200 – 15,000 €

Price of the artist’s drawings and watercolours on auction: 200 – 4,000 €

If you would like to have a Brassaï photograph appraised, our photo experts are at your disposal for a free appraisal.

The search for the immobilisation of the movement

Brassaï wanted “ immobilise the movement” (to use his own words) rather than capture the dynamic pulse of the city through movement. Like Eugène Atget, Brassaï met Paris at street level and in unknown places. Like Atget, he often saw beauty in the mundane or in the neglected and forgotten. Brassaï presented the different characters he met as “types”. He used his camera to chronicle the invisible side of human behaviour: from illicit liaisons and private gatherings to criminal and police activities, to vagrants and workers coming off their long night shifts. There is spontaneity in Brassaï’s work, but he did not hesitate to pose or stage his photographs when he is obliged to fulfil his commissions. Brassaï wanted to play with immediacy, showing an awareness of the beauty of a thing, a place, a human presence in itself. Author Henry Miller summed up his friend’s vision of the world with a rhetorical question: “The desire that Brassaï manifests with such force, the desire not to alter the object, but to consider it as it is, was it not provoked by a profound humility, respect and reverence for the object itself?”

Paris by Night

Gyula Halász, or Brassaï – the pseudonym under which he became much better known – is widely celebrated for his iconic photographs of Parisian nightlife, and especially for his book of collected photographs, Paris by Night. The scope of his range is, however, broader than this pioneering collection would suggest. As a freelance photographer and photojournalist, he contributed most to the idea of vernacular photography, although, thanks in part to the Surrealists, he is often credited with blurring any obvious distinction between what might be called street photography and what might be called fine art. Finally, it was his curiosity for the lived phenomena of twentieth-century urbanisation, and of Paris in particular, that determined the subjects on which, and to which, he turned his lens. The photo-historian Graham Clarke described Brassaï’s photographs of Paris by Night as “a psychological space of the imaginary”, “the space” in question being very much entangled in the dark corners of the city. His nocturnal universe was then that of brothels and hotels, bars and nightclubs rather than grand architecture. At the same time, Brassaï revealed himself in the details of the most improbable signifiers of urban life such as scrawled graffiti, gnarled hoardings and ruined masonry.

Recognising Brassaï’s signature

Like many artists, Brassaï did not sign all of his works. However, you will find below an example of the signatures to give you an idea. Variations of these signatures do exist, do not hesitate to contact one of our experts to formally authenticate a signature.

expertise signature brassai

Appraise and sell a painting by Brassaï

If you own a Brassaï painting or any other sculpture, ask for a free estimate via our online form.

You will then be contacted by a member of our team of experts and auctioneers to give you an independent view of the market price of your painting. In the event of a sale, our specialists will also advise you on the various options available to sell your work at the best price.

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