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On display at V&A South Kensington
Request to view at the Prints & Drawings Study Room, level F , Case X, Shelf 913, Box R

Couple fâché

Photograph
1932 (photographed)
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
Materials and Techniques
Gelatin silver print. The image is mounted onto wooden board, fixed with black tape around the edges.
Brief Description
Photograph by Brassaï, 'Couple fâché, Bal de Quatre Saisons' [Lovers' Quarrel, Four Seasons Dance Hall], Rue de Lappe, Paris, 1932. Printed for exhibition pre-1964, gelatin silver print mounted on wooden board
Physical Description
Black and white photograph of a couple seated at a table with a mirror on the wall behind them. He is on the left, wearing a tweed coat and a tweed cap, while she is seated on the right, wearing a white shirt and black cardigan, and smoking a cigarette. Her dark hair is neatly arranged, with one lock of it styled into a curl on her forehead. Although they are seated by one another, they do not seem to be interacting, with their gazes in opposite directions; hers is downcast while he looks away from her. An empty wine glass is on the table.
Dimensions
  • Image width: 40cm (Note: image, paper and board size are the same)
  • Image height: 49.7cm (Note: image, paper and board size are the same)
Styles
Marks and Inscriptions
Verso: Top right, black ink: 'BRASSAÏ' Bottom right, black ink on masking tape: 'COUPLE FÂCHÉ' Bottom right, black ink on masking tape: 'PP.25.(1932)
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.
Subject 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
  • Anne Wilkes Tucker, Brassaï: The Eye of Paris, Houston, TX: The Museum of Fine Arts (1999), plate 34
  • Brassaï, 1899-1984 (sale catalogue), Paris, France: Drouot-Montaigne, 2006, p356
  • Brassaï, Camera in Paris, UK: Focal Press (1949), p63
  • Robert Delpire, Brassaï, Paris: Editions Neuf (1952), p16
  • Brassaï, Les Paris secret des anneés 30, Paris: Gallimard (1976), p78
Collection
Accession Number
E.908-2014

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record createdApril 15, 2015
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