BRASSAI (GYULA HALASZ) (1899-1984)

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FEMME-FRUIT (TRANSMUTATION), 1935 by BRASSAI (GYULA HALASZ) (1899-1984) - photograph for sale from Beetles & Huxley

FEMME-FRUIT (TRANSMUTATION), 1935

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GRAFFITI, CIRCA 1956 by BRASSAI (GYULA HALASZ) (1899-1984) - photograph for sale from Beetles & Huxley

GRAFFITI, CIRCA 1956

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FILLE DE JOIE, QUARTIER D'ITALIE, 1932 by BRASSAI (GYULA HALASZ) (1899-1984) - photograph for sale from Beetles & Huxley

FILLE DE JOIE, QUARTIER D'ITALIE, 1932

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LE SOULEYMANIE PENDANT LA FETE DU RAMADAN, HAGIA SOFIA, ISTANBUL, 1953 by BRASSAI (GYULA HALASZ) (1899-1984) - photograph for sale from Beetles & Huxley

LE SOULEYMANIE PENDANT LA FETE DU RAMADAN, HAGIA SOFIA, ISTANBUL, 1953

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BAL-MUSETTE, PARIS, FRANCE, 1932 by BRASSAI (GYULA HALASZ) (1899-1984) - photograph for sale from Beetles & Huxley

BAL-MUSETTE, PARIS, FRANCE, 1932

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GALA SOIREE AT MAXIM'S, PARIS, 1949 by BRASSAI (GYULA HALASZ) (1899-1984) - photograph for sale from Beetles & Huxley

GALA SOIREE AT MAXIM'S, PARIS, 1949

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LE COUPLE FACHE, RUE DE LAPPE, PARIS, CIRCA 1933 by BRASSAI (GYULA HALASZ) (1899-1984) - photograph for sale from Beetles & Huxley

LE COUPLE FACHE, RUE DE LAPPE, PARIS, CIRCA 1933

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Brassaï was born in Brasso, Transylvania, now Brasov in Romania, on 9 September 1899. His father was a professor of French literature at Brasov University, and Halasz was brought up in an academic, comfortable environment. He studied at the Hungarian Academy of Fine Arts in Budapest, before being drafted into the cavalry regiment of the Austro-Hungarian army during the First World War. Then, in 1920, he began a career in journalism and publishing.

In 1924, Halasz moved to work in Paris the place with which he is now most closely associated. Both through his work and by his life in Montparnasse, he quickly became close to many artists, writers and photographers. In particular, he became friendly with the Hungarian, André Kertész, who tutored him. By 1929, Halasz was taking regular photographs and began to specialise in night photography a practice that had become popular in Paris at the time. He would wander the streets at night, photographing the people and buildings that he came across, often with an overtly Surrealist approach. By 1932, he had adopted the pseudonym "Brassaï", meaning "from Brasso" in his native tongue, and had taken up photography as his principal activity.

Brassaï seemed to have a natural affinity with Paris, revelling in its rich atmosphere and photographic potential. In 1933, he published his first book, "Paris De Nuit", which was met with great critical acclaim, and has proven hugely influential ever since Bill Brandt, for example, was particularly inspired by it.

Brassaï's best known photographs come from the 1930s, and deal with Paris's seamier side prostitutes, down and outs, drinkers, pimps and other inhabitants of the night all taken in poor light, and filled with brooding atmosphere and implied narratives. Late in the decade, he added further to this repertoire by focussing on the city's graffiti the subject of a solo exhibition at New York's Museum of Modern Art in 1957. However, he also photographed the more respectable sections of Paris society its writers, artists, intellectuals, operas and ballets.

In 1935 he joined the Rapho photographic agency, and quickly became world-famous for his images of Paris a city that seemed the centre of all things artistic during the inter-war period. He was also a prolific writer, a film-maker and a sculptor.

Brassaï died in Beaulieu-sur-Mer, France, on 8 July 1984.

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