Exhibition of André Kertész Photographs Opens at the WAG

An exhibition of 35 stunning black and white photographs by Hungarian artist André Kertész (1894-1985) has just opened at the Winnipeg Art Gallery. André Kertész: Shadow Marks continues until September 9. It is part of The Collection on View: several galleries given over to the long-term display of featured works from the WAG’s 25,000 permanent collection.

"At the heart of Kertész’s mastery is his ability to create an image wherein the subject appears to change and shift into something else wholly new,” explains Mary Reid, Curator of Contemporary Art and Photography. “He used strong contrasts between light and shadow to achieve this effect and it became a defining characteristic of his career. The result is images that are subtle yet profound revelations of human character."

Drafted by the Austro-Hungarian army in 1914, Kertész took his camera with him to the battlefield. His images focused on the lives of the soldiers away from the battle, capturing tender and fleeting moments of joy and contemplation. His ability to create powerful images of introspection represented his beginnings as a serious artist.

Moving to Paris in 1925, Kertész met with great success, quickly recognized for his talent in using the newly introduced small hand-held Leica camera. His photographs were frequently published in French and German magazines. Having attained significant commercial success, he left for New York in 1936 where unfortunately his more innovative work received a cool reception. However, he became a very successful commercial photojournalist until he retired in 1962. Finally, at age 68, Kertész was free to return to the more personal subjects that delighted him during his amateur and Paris days, and he spent the next two decades dedicating his energy to building upon his impressive production of portraits, still lives, and distortions.

“These images are drawn from the WAG’s collection of 180 photographs by Kertesz which were donated to the gallery in 1985,” says WAG Director Stephen Borys. “They marked the beginnings of the special collecting area dedicated to photography which has now grown to 1,420. Many of the pieces on display have never been on view before."

Approaching its centenary in 2012, the Winnipeg Art Gallery is Canada’s oldest civic art gallery and Manitoba’s leading visual arts institution. With a collection of over 24,000 objects spanning many centuries and cultures – including the world’s largest collection of contemporary Inuit art – the WAG is constantly moving between the historical and the contemporary in an effort to engage a growing public with the power of art in our lives.
 

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