Gelatin silver print
Image: 12.7 x 9.4 cm (5 x 3 11/16 in.); Matted: 35.6 x 30.6 cm (14 x 12 1/16 in.)
© Estate of A. Kertesz
The Jane B. Tripp Charitable Lead Annuity Trust 1990.90
This elevated view of a winter landscape is a later example from Kertész’s long, distinguished career. A pivotal figure in modern photography, he pioneered the use of a small, handheld camera to capture events as they happened. In 1925, he left his native city of Budapest for the stimulating artistic environment of Paris, departing for New York City in 1936. In 1952, Kertész settled into an apartment near Washington Square Park where he enjoyed observing the passersby from his high vantage point, employing a telephoto lens to bring his subjects closer. He transformed this stark scene into a complex, slightly abstract composition, rich with ambling elements such as trees, benches, light posts, fences, and figures walking. His depiction of space is disquieting due to the elimination of a horizon line and the lack of shadows. Kertész avoided a gradual tonal range in favor of rendering the bleak vista in plain black and white. Through this absence of light and atmosphere, the image becomes frozen in time and universally symbolic.
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