(American/Hungarian, 1894–1985) was born in July of 1894, and stands as one of the most influential photographers of the 20th century. Drafted in 1914 into the Austrio-Hungarian army in World War I, Kertész brought along his newly purchased camera, and the resulting images proved to be the beginning of Kertész’s long and fruitful career. Unlike many of the photographs taken during the war, Kertész focused on the lives of the soldiers rather than the war being raged. Capturing these soldiers’ moments of jubilation and sorrow on a personal level was a unique way to use a hand-held camera, rarely realized before.
After the war, Kertész moved to Paris in 1925, a move that would alter the course of his photographic career. He quickly met and became friends with Alexander Calder
, Constantin Brancusi
, Marc Chagall
, and Piet Mondrian
, and was inspired by the artistic environment surrounding him. Kertész photographed the beautiful streets of Paris, and put on his first show at an avant-garde gallery. He managed to capture both the serious and the humor in almost every photograph, juxtaposing people with the deep shadows and beauty of the Parisian streets. Kertész seemed to notice and highlight the small, insignificant details that would normally escape the average eye, making him immensely popular.
In 1936, Kertész moved across the Atlantic to New York to further his career as a photographer. He found success in the unlimited stark visual experience that New York provided, photographing both the sense of awe and amazement, while still conveying a sense of alienation and isolation that one encountered in the city. With the onset of World War II, he was unable to return to Paris and was treated as an enemy of the government, making him unable to publish anything for years. His career went relatively unnoticed until 1964, when the curator at The Museum of Modern Art, John Szarkowski, organized a solo show of his work. Kertész profoundly changed the photographic medium by witnessing and participating in the beginnings of the hand-held camera, and using it to photograph his subjects with subtlety and humor. He died in 1985 at the age of 91 in New York.