EYE CANDY

A Look Back at 1930s Paris, Through the Lens of Legendary Photographer Brassaï

© Estate Brassaï Succession, Paris

In the early 1930s, the writer Henry Miller dubbed Brassaï “the eye of Paris” but in fact the late photographer didn’t settle down in the City of Lights until he was in his mid-20s. Born Gyula Halász in Transylvania in 1899, Brassaï first moved to Paris to work as a journalist and discovered photography mostly out of necessity; supplementing his work with photos was simply a way to deal with the economic hardship that, on several occasions, led him to pawn his typewriter after filing his newspaper stories. Once he turned to photography full-time, however, his situation quickly improved; his nighttime photos of the city were instantly considered so iconic that Brassaï—who adopted his mononym in homage to his hometown of Brasso—soon joined the ranks of Miller in bohemian high society, at which point he added scenes from nights spent at operas, ballets, and lesbian nightclubs to his signature subject matter. Starting September 13, the full scope of his work will be on display at the Foam photography museum in Amsterdam, whose upcoming exhibition will also serve as the first retrospective of the photographer’s work in the Netherlands. Take a look inside, here.

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© Estate Brassaï Succession, Paris

Brassaï, Couple in a Café, near the place d’Italie, c. 1932. Featured in the retrospective exhibition “Brassaï,” on view at the Foam photography museum in Amsterdam from September 13 through December 4, 2019.

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© Estate Brassaï Succession, Paris

Brassaï, Streetwalker, near the Place d’Italie, 1932. Featured in the retrospective exhibition “Brassaï,” on view at the Foam photography museum in Amsterdam from September 13 through December 4, 2019.

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© Estate Brassaï Succession, Paris

Brassaï, Gala Soireé at Maxim’s, May 1949. Featured in the retrospective exhibition “Brassaï,” on view at the Foam photography museum in Amsterdam from September 13 through December 4, 2019.

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© Estate Brassaï Succession, Paris

Brassaï, On the Boulevard Saint-Jacques, 1930-1932. Featured in the retrospective exhibition “Brassaï,” on view at the Foam photography museum in Amsterdam from September 13 through December 4, 2019.

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© Estate Brassaï Succession, Paris

Brassaï, View through the pont Royal toward the pont Solférino, c. 1933. Featured in the retrospective exhibition “Brassaï,” on view at the Foam photography museum in Amsterdam from September 13 through December 4, 2019.

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© Estate Brassaï Succession, Paris

Brassaï, Matisse with His Model, 1939. Featured in the retrospective exhibition “Brassaï,” on view at the Foam photography museum in Amsterdam from September 13 through December 4, 2019.