Friday, June 29, 2012

Arty Farty Friday ~ André Kertész, Photographer, Sun Cancer, Stellium Gemini.

As a change from the painters, a photographer with natal Sun in Cancer: born 2 July 1894: André Kertész: not a household name by any means. I wasn't familar with his photographs, but he, and they, are well worth investigation.

Born in Hungary, began taking photographs as a hobby in 1912, while working as a clerk in the Budapest stock exchange. Kertész eventually decided to take up photography as a career, moved to Paris in 1925, became a successful photojournalist there. He met and photographed some of the era's glamorous personalities including Chagall, Colette and Mondrian. His poetic pictures of Paris are some of his most praised - for example "Clock of the Académie Française" (1929), in which the black numerals of an antique clock face are layered over a bird's-eye view of the city.
(Note from now on I shall omit, with apologies, the accents in the artist's name)

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Satiric Dancer

One of his most widely reproduced pictures: "Satiric Dancer" (1926), surrealistic image of a young woman reclining on a love seat next to a modernist marble sculpture of a male torso. "It looks more like a Man Ray than something the author of "Chez Mondrian" could havemade."

Chez Mondrian


"Meudon" (1928), the view down a narrow street opens up to a high aqueduct, across which a locomotive travels. In the foreground, a man with eyes shadowed by his hat brim approaches carrying a large flat package wrapped in newspaper. "In its sinister mystery, it is like something dreamed by de Chirico."

Eleven years later, as war clouds gathered over Europe, Andre Kertesz and his wife, Elizabeth, emigrated to the USA, New York, where he spent the rest of his life.

My Elizabeth, Paris 1931

Captivated by New York, awed by its scale, his photographs record his fascination yet sense of alienation . At times his personal photographic style did not mesh well with the straightforward fashion photography the American public (and magazines) expected. He continued to exhibit individual work as best he could but his reputation slowly faded, and he became disillusioned.

Washington Square, New York

New York Boy (1944)

World Trade Center (1972)

Solitude (1960)

3rd Avenue & 46th Street (1936)

East River Esplanade (1948)

A solo show at the Museum of Modern Art in 1964 relaunched his career and reputation, caught the mood of the times and he became something of an elder statesman to the photographers of the late 1960s and early 1970s. By the mid-1970s he was showing his work in galleries all over the world. He continued working very productively into old age, and was experimenting with instant Polaroid photography shortly before he died.

His personal history spanned political upheavals of two world wars and life in three countries. He died at age ninety-one. Kertész is now recognized as one of the seminal figures of photojournalism.


Sun in Cancer = sensitivity, sentimentality, emotionally intelligent, intuitive.
A few relevant quotes from articles linked at foot of post:

Kertesz was an unabashedly sentimental symbolist, and many of his pictures have what seems an almost naïve quality. "Lost Cloud" (1937), in which a little cotton puff of a cloud hovers in an otherwise empty sky next to a soaring Empire State Building, is a good example. He made the picture shortly after he and his wife moved to the United States and his new professional opportunities were not working out. Kertesz identified with the little cloud. The photographer once commented that it touched him when he saw it because "it didn't know which way to go." It would be a mistake, however, to believe Kertesz's claims to have been only an amateur and to overlook the intensely cultivated sophistication it took to produce pictures of such seemingly naïve charm.

"You don't see" the things you photograph, he explained, "you feel them."

"What distinguishes Kertesz's work is not a particular visual style or signature subject matter, but its emotional resonance. Undoubtedly Kertesz was a great formalist, but in his most persuasive pictures, form is put to the service of feeling."

Moon could have been in either Cancer or Gemini depending on time of birth (chart is set for 12 noon). There are four other planets clustered in Gemini - Venus, Pluto, Neptune and Jupiter, all lend strength to the mutable Geminian strain in his nature -easily detected in his variety of styles

Experts surmise that Kertesz's relative lack of recognition is linked to his variety of styles. He didn't find and stick to any "signature" style making his work instantly recognisable, he didn't take political or historically topical photographs....there was "something chameleonlike about him: not that he mimicked the styles of others, but in the sense that he adapted photographically to different kinds of worldly realities."

Sun in Cancer is harmoniously in trine to Uranus (the unexpected, avant garde) in Scorpio. Clearly manifests in Kertesz's series of "Distortions" (1933), nudes reflected in distorting mirrors - strange, different, yet among his best-known work. Two examples from many :

Near the end of his life Kertesz acquired an SX-70 Polaroid camera and immersed himself in experimenting with it.



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