Currently on display at the Fundación Mapfre you can find the photography exhibition by the Hungarian-French artist Brassaï.
We like Brassaï, in the same way we like fauvism and cubism, which were both contemporary movements from his era. I must say that I have seen a lot of exhibitions either from the 20th century or inspired by creations from that period, and yet I have seen very few that capture the amount of wisdom that allows the artist to present a new perspective towards that era (and this is after years of no longer being novel), in a way that allows their work carry its own weight alongside artwork produced in the present-day.
Of course we like Brassaï’s straightforward photos, of his insolent faced models and his images of París’s dives and alleyways from 100 years ago. We appreciate his clear intention to not paint over or embellish his photos, however poetic and ingeniously framed they may be, in the end appear to be scenes of everyday life.
It’s not our intention to take away any of Brassaï’s merit, who we admire as a photographer and as an individual, and whose biography sits on our bookshelves. Yet, we have the sensation that there are an abundance of exhibitions of artistic and creative work produced during the first half of the century, (and while we recognise that it was a time when art and architecture flourished and artists created works that became milestones in the history of art and humanity), it seems to us that after all of that, we still struggle to find something ground-breaking, something truly innovative and capable of creating a future school of art.
Brassaï was magnificent because he didn’t allow appearances to fool him and he didn’t look for the beautiful where it simply didn’t exist: in the suburbs, the clandestine dens, in the people of questionable reputation whose photographs he took. He knew how to capture the beauty in the dark streets of Paris at a time when everyone was drawn to the glamour of its boulevards. He has few architectural photographs, but those that we have seen could function as sculptures without volume, as poems lacking rhyme, as images so abstract that today they seem banal to us, but in their time gave way to a peculiar way of seeing that Brassaï and many of his contemporaries were able to capture.
It’s true that after seeing this exposition, we’ve thought about everything we’ve written and upon reflection, we’ve come to see Brassaï’s work as an artistic manifestation of an era that makes us think, talk, and write about, and surely will inspire us to create.
For that reason, despite the fact that we felt the sensation of having seen something that we’ve seen many times before, we are thankful and happy to have been able to enjoy these artists, their schools, their quests, their processes and their masterpieces.
Therefore, we’d like to take the opportunity to thank the galleries, halls, foundations and museums that provide us with these enjoyable moments when we can contemplate their expositions.