One could call Gyula Halasz, more commonly known as Brassai, the inventor of photography as an art form. Alive from 1899-1984, he was most famous for his photos of Paris nightlife in the 1930's. He took photographs of the trains and metro staions; cityscapes with the look of abandonment; lonely people, neglected people, characters in bars or on benchs. He worked in black and white but seeing his original prints made me realize the depth that can be created in values if one truly knows what they are doing. His whitess glowed and his blacks were deep. When seeing his exhibition at the Centre Pompidou in Paris, I thought that his work was some-what cliche until I realized that many of the styles of art photography were borrowed from and created by him.
Brassai is also famous for his collaborations with other members of intelligencia that were gathered in Paris at the time. Throughout the '30's, '40's and '50's, he photographed several artists in their element such as Giacometti, Matisse, Bonnard, Anais Nin, Henry Miller, Dali and most famously, Picasso. Brassai wrote a book about the friendship that developped between the two of them titled Conversations with Picasso (Conversations avec Picasso). In this book, Picasso was truly exposed. Brassai was allowed into his studio and into his life. It reflects on the two men but also greatly on the scene that existed in Paris amongst the artists. Picasso and Brassai also collaborated on other projects, such as a book about Picasso as a sculptor. I was also able to see an exhibit in Paris at the Musee de Picasso about the affects Brassai and Picasso had on eath other's work.
Brassai made his major debut in the United States in 1956 at MoMA in New York. Brassai's exposition consisted of a collection of photos he had taken of graffitti in Paris. He was one of the first people to seriously consider graffitti as an art. He was able to find beauty in reality and expose it to others. He said that "Rien n'est plus beau que la realite." ("Nothing is more beautiful than reality.")