National Gallery of Art - THE COLLECTION
image of Elizabeth and I André Kertész (artist)
American, born Hungary, 1894 - 1985
Elizabeth and I, 1933
gelatin silver print
overall: 23.8 x 17.9 cm (9 3/8 x 7 1/16 in.)
Gift of The André and Elizabeth Kertész Foundation
Not on View
From the Tour: Modern Portraits in Photography
Object 8 of 13

Kertész Andor adopted his Gallicized first name, André, after moving to Paris from Budapest, Hungary, in 1925, having decided to make an artistic career as a commercial photographer. In Paris, Kertész worked freelance for illustrated magazines, a form of publishing that was already thriving in his native central Europe. While frequenting the company of painters and sculptors, he also showed his work in ambitious exhibitions of progressive photography, such as the Salon de l'Escalier (Staircase Salon), Paris (1927), and the Film und Foto exhibition in Stuttgart (1929). Kertész emigrated to New York in 1936 where, after many years of desultory work for House and Garden magazine, he slowly became integrated into a new establishment of galleries and museums.

Kertész specialized in scenes of lyrical intimacy and solitude, exactly the sentiments expressed in this self-portrait with his Hungarian wife Elizabeth. After years of fitful courtship, she had joined him in Paris in 1931 and they married two years later. Undoubtedly, the couple needed to adjust to each other after their extended separation, during which Kertész had discovered himself professionally and personally as well (he even married, briefly, another Hungarian émigré). This newlywed portrait registers the couple's mutual rediscovery, from the awkward tenderness of his hand on her shoulder, to the stiffness with which she folds her body into his. One has the impression that the participants in this image are evolving before our eyes toward a new relationship. In this sense, the portrait is not a still image and even less a commemorative picture, but rather the stage for an evolving narrative

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Artist Information
Exhibition History

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