David's Reviews > The Secret Paris of the 30's

The Secret Paris of the 30's by Brassaï
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's review
Dec 16, 2009

it was amazing
Read in September, 1976 — I own a copy

I went to the opening of Brassai's show at the Marlborough Gallery in New York in 1976. Brassai was there, standing in the middle of a circle of admirers, including a critic from the New York Times and the director of the Metropolitan Museum. As it happens, no one was looking at the photographs on the wall except me, a scruffy hippie kid. Brassai broke away from the circle of admirers. He came and stood next to me and said "Do you like the photograph?" I said, "Yes!" He said, "Je suis Brassai." I said, "I know!" I told him I had a show of photos at the Stieglitz gallery downtown called Shameless. I told him one of the photos in my show was an homage to his portrait of Miss Diamonds aka "Bijou." He invited me to come to lunch with him.

It was one of the most inspiring episodes in my life. I was moved that a man at the peak of his career would take the time to encourage an unknown kid. He autographed my copy of this book. I gave him a copy of my photo: "Bijou of Andy's Donuts" which was shot at a donut shop in the Castro in 1975.

His photographs are exquisite, shot on location in Paris. He works with modified ambient light under difficult circumstances. He captures a range of moments from the dramatic to the charming, in beautifully atmospheric light. His compositions are flawless. His black and white prints are magnificent (not really adequately rendered in the book.)

He told me that photographs age like fine wine. He said I should bring my photographs of San Francisco in the 70's out in 30 or 40 years, and they would be even more admired. I plan to do that around 2015.
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message 1: by Sar (new)

Sar I saw that show back then and spoke to Brassai (actually, I stood next to my father-in-law while he spoke to him)--I was too shy to say a word. Seemed like a lovely man and wonderful photographer.

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