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Couple dans un bistrot, rue Saint Denis

  • Object:

    Photograph

  • Place of origin:

    Paris (photographed)

  • Date:

    c.1931 (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.904-2014

  • Gallery location:

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

Brassaï was born in 1899 as Gyula Halász in the Transylvanian town of Brassó. He grew up in Budapest and spent the early 1920s in Berlin, training as a painter and working as a journalist. He moved to Paris in 1924, where he stayed until his death in 1984. He took up photography in Paris initially to support his written journalism, though he soon committed himself to a solely photographic practice. Brassaï is most well-known for his images of Parisian life, featuring brothels, prostitutes, city streets, architecture and high society alike. His first book, ‘Paris by Night’, was published in 1933 and established his reputation as a serious photographer.

Some of Brassaï’s most iconic images depict the scandalous nightlife in bars and brothels, exposing the city’s debaucherous underbelly. Scenes of prostitution, sexual interactions and nudity are not uncommon and present an almost practical view of the working women. Brassaï also frequented dance halls, depicting performers, ethnic minorities and members of the LGBTQ community. Overall, the indiscriminate scope of Brassaï’s photographs present this previously unseen side of Paris alongside more traditional subject matter such as society functions and opera dancers. His ability to document a complete cross section of society provides an authentic glimpse into Parisian life in the 1930s.

Physical description

Black and white photograph depicting a man and a woman seated at a table. They are both smoking, and leaning with their elbows on the table. He wears a cap and she has a curl fashioned into her hair. There is a scarf on the table and a mirror on the wall behind them. In the mirror, we can see the reflection of another man in a cap.

Place of Origin

Paris (photographed)

Date

c.1931 (photographed)

Artist/maker

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

Materials and Techniques

Gelatin silver print

Marks and inscriptions

Recto:
Bottom right, black ink: artist's signature, 'Brassaï'

Verso:
Top left, pencil: '22 x 30,5'
Top centre, pencil: 'Page 78A'
Top right, pencil: 'PL.17'
Centre, pencil: 'Page 68A'
Bottom right, pencil: 'No. 51'
Bottom right, pencil: 'Pl.17'
Bottom right, stamped in black ink: 'SUCCESSION / BRASSAÏ / ESTATE'

Dimensions

Width: 21.9 cm image, Height: 30.4 cm image, Width: 27.5 cm paper, Height: 35.7 cm paper

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 Brassai, 'Couple dans un bistrot, rue Saint Denis' [couple in a pub, rue Saint Denis], c.1931, gelatin silver print

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

Alain Sayag and Annick Lionel-Marie, Brassaï: No Ordinary Eyes, London: Thames & Hudson (2000), p86

Materials

Photographic paper

Techniques

Gelatin silver process; Photography

Subjects depicted

Pub; Bar; Lovers

Categories

Photographs

Collection

Prints, Drawings & Paintings Collection

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