Kertész at the Home of Piet Mondrian
André Kertész is widely regarded as one as of the most important figures in the history of photography. Although he failed to gain popular recognition in the early stages of his career, his later photographs are now amongst the most famous images of the twentieth century.
Kertész was born Kertész Andor in Budapest on 2nd July 1894, the son of middle-class Hungarian-Jewish parents. He served in the Austro-Hungarian army until he was wounded in 1915. During his service, his passion for photography grew, and he established himself as a promising amateur photographer. He continued to pursue photography in his spare time and, in 1922, received an honorary diploma from the Hungarian Association of Photography. In October 1925, Kertész emigrated to Paris in an attempt to establish himself as a professional photographer.
This image is perhaps André Kertész’s most recognised photograph. It was taken at the studio of the artist Piet Mondrian in 1926. Kertész set about trying to capture the spirit of the Dutch artist’s paintings. “He simplified, simplified, simplified. The studio with its symmetry dictated the composition. He has a vase with a flower, but the flower was artificial. It was coloured by him to match the studio.” Mondrian had imposed a rigid geometric order on everything in the apartment, punctuated in the photograph by the curves of the staircase, the vase and a boater hat – belonging to the painter and writer, Michael Seuphor.