Art market Magazine February 2014

 
FICTION 
 
Brassaï, imaginary interview 
Paris, 1983.…
FICTION

Brassaï, imaginary interview
Paris, 1983. An elderly man with bushy eyebrows and bright eyes welcomes us into an apartment overflowing with mementoes. You adopted Paris nearly
sixty years ago... Oh no, Paris can't be adopted. It's Paris that chooses you, never the other way round! In my native Hungary, I had always seen the French capital as a fantastical ideal city, a kind of legend where countless lives mingled together – those of not only intellectuals and great families, but also prostitutes and rogues. It's only when you are actually there, when you finally breathe deeply of its air, that Paris becomes the hurly-burly we all know, the one that whirls you a long way further. Very far from my native Transylvania, in any case. What brought you to France? I spent a year in Paris when I was four, when I came over with my father, who was teaching literature classes at the Sorbonne. (With stars in his eyes) We lived near the Luxembourg gardens. I remember it as a time of miraculous enchantment. (Coming to himself ) You know, I've known Surrealism too well to pay much heed to psychoanalysis during my life. But I have to admit that my entire identity developed during this period. So, as you can see, my relationship with Paris is far more Proustian than Freudian! In a word, it's a bit of a madeleine for me! (laughs) And why did Gyula Halász decide one day to call himself "Brassaï"? I have always thought that a well-chosen name for an artist is far more effective than an over-complicated civil status. As a result, when I started photography seriously in 1929, I opted for "Brassaï" in memory of the town where I was born, Brassó. After all, Michelangelo Merisi did just the same thing when he chose the village in Lombardy where his mother came from: Caravaggio! But my chosen path wasn't so simple. Would you believe me if I said that I wasn't always drawn to photography? But it's true, in fact! Originally I wanted to be a journalist – or possibly a painter, even if I didn't exactly imagine shutting myself away in a studio. But photography,

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Brassaï (1899-1984), "Self-portrait", 1931.

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© Brassaï Estate

Art Market Magazine February 2014
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