Le pompier de service aux Folies-Bergère

Photograph
1932 (photographed), c1950 (printed)
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Artist/Maker
Place Of Origin

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.


object details
Category
Object Type
Additional TitleBehind the scenes of the Folies-Bergère (published title)
Materials and Techniques
Gelatin silver print
Brief Description
Photograph by Brassaï, 'Le pompier de service aux Folies-Bergère' [Fireman at the Folie-Bergère], Paris, France, 1932, printed c.1950, gelatin silver print
Physical Description
Black and white photograph of a uniformed man leaning forwards with his arm around a woman, nude except for her soes and a pair of bloomers. Their faces not visible. They lean against a wall full of hanging ropes, and a metal helmet is clearly visible in the centre of the image.
Dimensions
  • Image width: 40cm (Note: image and paper size are the same)
  • Image height: 50.6cm (Note: image and paper size are the same)
Styles
Marks and Inscriptions
Verso: Top centre, pencil: '40x50.5' Top right, pencil: 'Pl. 730' Bottom left, stamped in black ink: 'SUCCESSION / *BRASSAI* / ESTATE' Bottom right, red ink: 'PP.730 / Folies-Bergères [underlined]
Credit line
Bequest of Gilberte Boyer Brassaï
Object history
This object came to the museum as part of a bequest of 99 photographs by Brassaï from his widow, Madame Gilberte Boyer.
Subjects depicted
Place Depicted
Summary
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.

Bibliographic References
  • Brassaï, Camera in Paris, London: Focal Press (1949), p49
  • Brassaï, 1899-1984 (sale catalogue), Paris, France: Drouot-Montaigne, 2006, p443
  • Brassaï, Voluptés de Paris, Paris: Paris Publications (1934), p31
  • Alan Sayag and Annick Lionnel-Marie [ed.s], Brassaï: No Ordinary Eyes London: Thames & Hudson (2000), p.93
  • Brassaï, Le Paris secret des années 30, Paris: Gallimard (1976), p.149
Collection
Accession Number
E.932-2014

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record createdApril 15, 2015
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