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Nu de dos

  • Object:

    Photograph

  • Place of origin:

    Paris (photographed)

  • Date:

    c.1931-4 (photographed)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Brassaï Guyula Hálasz, born 1899 - died 1984 (photographer)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Gelatin silver print

  • Credit Line:

    Bequest of Gilberte Boyer Brassaï

  • Museum number:

    E.877-2014

  • Gallery location:

    Prints & Drawings Study Room, level F, case X, shelf 913, box O

Hungarian-born photographer Brassaï is perhaps best known for photographs of Paris, in which he documented the streets, architecture, society and nightlife of the city during the inter-war years. His photographs caught the attention of André Breton and the Surrealists, which led to a ten year association with the group; although, Brassaï was careful to never call himself a Surrealist and maintained that his photographs were objective.

Over 150 of Brassaï’s photographs were published in the Surrealist journal 'Le Minotaure' – mostly female nudes that he made in the early 1930s. These nudes are characterised by the cropping of heads and limbs, with the camera frame focussing on the torso. The bodies are truncated, often distorted, as individuality is reduced in favour of exploring the corporeal. The figures become transformative, morphing into phalluses, violins and abstract compositions, and suspended in space with a dreamlike quality. Whilst Brassaï never accepted himself as a Surrealist nor referenced them when writing about his work, these photographs speak to the Surrealist concern with the line between the conscious and the subconscious, and to the theories of Freud, a psychoanalyst prominent in Surrealist theory.

Physical description

Black and white photograph of a seated nude woman, taken from behind. Her arms are not visible and her head is cropped so that we can only see her neck and the base of her bob haircut.

Place of Origin

Paris (photographed)

Date

c.1931-4 (photographed)

Artist/maker

Brassaï Guyula Hálasz, born 1899 - died 1984 (photographer)

Materials and Techniques

Gelatin silver print

Marks and inscriptions

Verso:
Top centre, pencil: '20,5 x 28,5'
Top right, pencil: 'Nu. 86 fc 32'
Top right, pencil: 'Brassaï'
Top right, red ink: '1)'
Top right, stamped in black ink [faded]: 'SUCCESSION / BRASSAÏ / ESTATE'
Centre, black ink: 'Nu 86'

Dimensions

Width: 21 cm image, Height: 29 cm image

Object history note

This object came to the museum as part of a bequest of 99 photographs by Brassaï from his widow, Madame Gilberte Boyer.

Descriptive line

Photograph by Brassaï, 'Nu de dos' [Nude from behind] or 'Nu 86' [Nude 86], c.1931-34, gelatin silver print

Bibliographic References (Citation, Note/Abstract, NAL no)

Brassaï, 1899-1984 (sale catalogue), Paris, France: Drouot-Montaigne, 2006, p124

Materials

Photographic paper

Techniques

Gelatin silver process

Subjects depicted

Female nude; Nude

Categories

Photographs

Collection

Prints, Drawings & Paintings Collection

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