26.2.10

André Kertész and Artistic Deformation

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1. André Kertész (1894-1985), photograph, undated

"Everybody can look, but they don't necessarily see" (André Kertész).[1]

"Produce the extraordinary or face extintion" (John von Naumann).[2]

Since WWI André Kertész had been interested in the optical distortions created by water or the chromium-plate housings of auto lamps. In Paris he was commissioned to create one of his most famous series of works, the "Distortion" photographs, in 1933: a series of about 200 photographs of two nude, female models in various poses with their reflections in a combination of distortion mirrors, similar to those found in a carnival's house of mirrors. In some cases the models, Najinskaya Verackhatz and Nadia Kasine, were so distorted that only certain limbs or features were visible in the mirror's reflection. For the project Kertész used three mirrors and a camera designed to expose 9-by-12-centimeter negatives fitted with an early zoom lens. "Sometimes, just by a half-a-step left or right, all the shapes and forms have changed. I viewed the changes and stopped whenever I liked the combination of distorted body shapes," Kertész recalled.[3] Some of the images appeared in the 2 March issue of Le Sourire and later in the 15 September 1933 issue of Arts et métiers graphiques. Kertész published the book Distortions later that year containing the photographs.


2. Kertész, Distortion, gelatin silver print.


3. Ibid.


4. Ibid. (Distortion #40).


5. Ibid. (Distortion #49).


6. Ibid.

Notes
1. "André Kertész," Getty Education (25.2.2010).
2. Katy Marton, "The Great Escape" (lecture), PBA, 4 December 2006.
3. Los Angeles, Getty Center, André Kertész, Seven Decades, December 2007 - April 2008.

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