Posts Tagged ‘Brassai’


I was checking YouTube yesterday to see if the videos from last week’s Virtual Gallery Talk from the West End Gallery were being viewed. As I came to my page I saw a strange looking entry among my suggested videos. It was my name as a title appearing to overlay what I could see was my work underneath.

There was lettering above my name that appeared to me to be Korean. Clicking on it, I saw that it was a compilation of my work set to three pieces of music with photos of me along with what appeared to be biographical info, all gleaned from the internet.

It’s a strange sensation to see your work in this way, compiled and used by someone else. I am sure there are those of you out there who feel I should be upset over the unauthorized use of my imagery in this way and maybe you’re right. But I knew that once I began putting my work online as I do, it would possibly be subject to this sort of thing. I felt it was worth the risk in order to get my work out there.

I sometimes at gallery talks tell the story of the great photographer Brassai asking his best known subject and friend Pablo Picasso for advice on selling some drawings he had created. For how much should he sell them, for example. Picasso, who liked the Brassai drawings, told him to put a very low price on them because he needed them to get out into the world where they could be known and be seen. Where they could establish a name and achieve a noteworthiness that might one day make all his work valuable. Picasso claimed that had been his route.

It’s advice I still give young artists.

And that’s how I view this– a result of putting my work out into the world.

Actually, I am happy and flattered that my work has reached across the world and translates well into other cultures. You go into this hoping your work speaks to all people and to get a small bit of proof that it might doing that is gratifying.

There are worst things in this world.

Take a look, if you so desire. I could do without the photos of myself but I like the musical accompaniment’s different moods. Have a good day.

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I came across this photo from the great Hungarian/French photographer Brassai and its impact hit me immediately. It’s a powerful image that is filled with emotional and narrative potentials.

Just a glimpse at it elicits some sort of response.

For me, it was like a scene from a bad dream. Running from some unseen menace through the dark in an unknown place. Hot and humid. Stumbling over cobblestones.

Maybe for you, it raises a different narrative. Maybe running heroically toward a dire situation.

Maybe not. Maybe it’s just a great photo with wonderful contrasts that is beautifully composed. Whatever the case, I like it and thoughts it raises in me.

I thought I’d try to find something that fit the image and came up with Blue Shadows in the Street from Dave Brubeck.I’m not sure this quite fits the bill but I like it. Hope you do as well. Have a great Sunday.


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brassai_1899_1984__-paris-11I thought for this Sunday’s music I’d do something with a Valentine’s Day theme.  I also wanted to use the Brassai photo shown here, one of his famed Paris photos that I used in a post from a few years back. I decided to incorporate a post from a few years back about the song The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face.

Most people immediately think of Roberta Flack when they think of the song  and for good reason.  Her 1972 version was  truly beautiful and deserved every bit of the acclaim it earned.  But the song didn’t originate with her and has had many, many versions through the years, including one of my favorites from Johnny Cash, which you can see below along with the Roberta Flack version.

The song’s history began in 1957.  It was written by Ewan MacColl,  a British folk singer who is a very interesting character in his own right.  He was a married man who fell in love with the much younger Peggy Seeger, the half-sister of folk icon Pete Seeger.  He later married Seeger.  MacColl wrote the song about her and for her to perform.  She needed a song for a play she was appearing in here in the USA so MacColl wrote the song and taught it to her via the telephone as he was barred from entering the States because of his Communist ties.  As I said, he was an interesting character.

Her original version has much different phrasing than the better known Flack version and while it is not my favorite, it is nonetheless lovely. It is said that MacColl despised all the later versions of the song, preferring his wife’s.  Hey, it was written for her, after all.

Cash’s version is much more ponderous, closer in tone to the Flack version.  It is from his American series near the end of his life.  His voice was weaker and even rawer than in his younger days but Cash used it in an incredibly expressive way, giving the song  the feeling of a dirge as he looked back from a point near the end of his and his wife’s life, to an earlier time in his life and the fresh discovery of love.  It is both beautiful and sad– much like life and love.

Just a great song. Have a good Sunday…

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Brassai_1899_1984__ Paris 6I realized after publishing yesterday’s post that, while I had shown the work of many great phtographers,  I had never before shown any of the photos of Brassai here.  That was an oversight on my part.  Called the Eye of Paris by his friend Henry Miller, Brassai’s work is iconic and defines the perception that many people have of Paris in the first half of the last century.

Born in Hungary with the name Gyula Halasz  in 1899, he studied art and served with the Austro-Humgarian army in World War I.  After the war, he found his way to vibrant Paris, filled with the great artists, writers and musicians of the time.  He adopted the pseudonym Brassai  from the name of his hometown and soon was photographing the city that he so loved  and was his home for the rest of his life, until his death in 1984.  His photos of Paris captured its high life and its low life, with photos of the great artists and thinkers that made their way there alongside the photos of decadent parties and photos of the brothels and the prostitutes along the city’s avenues.  For me, when I think of Brassai I think of his night scenes that capture the shadows and mist of the city as well as the lovers who embrace on the darkened boulevards.

It’s powerful work, work that evokes both a time and a place as well as a feeling.  Brassai was indeed the Eye Of Paris and I’m pleased to have taken care of my oversight here.  Most of these photos are from the early 1930’s.

Brassai_1899_1984__ Paris 11 Brassai_1899_1984__Paris 8 Brassai_1899_1984__Paris 5 Brassai_1899_1984__Paris 10 Brassai_1899_1984__Paris 9 Brassai_1899_1984_Paris 2 brassai_Couple_d_amoureux_sous_un_r_verb_re_1933 Brassai_1899_1984__Paris 7 Brassai_1899_1984__Paris 3 Brassai_1899_1984__Paris 4Brassai Notre Damebrassai_theeiffeltowerattwilight

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Matisse with chalk drawing of Picasso- Brassai Photo

Matisse with chalk drawing of Picasso- Brassai Photo

There was an article the other day on Brain Pickings that contained some words on inspiration and creativity that Pablo Picasso had passed on to famed photographer Brassai during the many times that he had photographed and interviewed the artist over the course of thirty years.  It’s a short article with only a few points and, more importantly, a link to an earlier article concerning Picasso’s views on success .  Both are interesting articles that I recommend but what caught my eye was a photo  accompanying the first article  of Henri Matisse with a chalk drawing he had done while blindfolded.

It reminded me of an exercise I periodically use where I attempt to draw faces with my eyes tightly closed.  It usually  involves a single line and is pretty rudimentary.  The whole idea is to be able to visualize an image in your mind and  follow it there with your hand, overcoming the disconnect that comes with the closed eyes.  There are moments when the concentration kicks in and I can feel my hand and the image in a sort of harmony.  It’s a nice little brain exercise.

Seeing the Matisse photo made me want to get a chalkboard and try this exercise on a larger scale, where the sweeping motion of the arm and hand might be easier to synchronize with the mind’s image than with the smaller strokes of  pen on paper such as those below, done on  old newsprint with a ballpoint pen.  They are certainly nothing to celebrate but what I am looking for is a certainty in line and curve  as well as a similarity to my own eyes-open doodles. In that aspect, I am pleased.

Give it  a try.  It’s a nice little exercise for your mind…

GC Myers- Blindfold DoodlesThis one below was done slightly larger and with a few minutes of practice.  Both the size and practice improve the image.


GC Myers- Blindfold DoodlesTh

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