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Brassai: The Eye of Paris Hardcover – June 1, 1999

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Brassaï: The Eye of Paris is both the catalog of an exhibition of Brassaï's photographs organized by the Houston Fine Arts Museum and a valuable biography of the artist. In 1932, only three years after he purchased his first camera (a Leica), Brassaï published a portfolio of 64 photos titled Paris by Night that caused an immediate sensation. His lively eye (seen in an enigmatic photograph at the beginning of the book) captured fresh, unique images of the city and its citizens. Fascinated by the underworld, he moved easily among gangsters and prostitutes in bars and bordellos; he was equally at home among the fashionable and wealthy, and just as devastating in his depiction of them. He used magnesium flares for low-contrast shadows, catching his subjects in natural poses at significant moments. The wide range of Brassaï's work is suggested by his formal nudes, which have an affinity with Edward Weston's, and his informal portraits, which remind viewers of Diane Arbus, who admired his work. Brassaï was a central figure in the intellectual and artistic circles of Montparnasse that made Paris the most exciting city in the world during the 1930s. In a long essay that includes lively anecdotes of the photographer's relationships with Picasso, Henry Miller, Kertesz, and many other luminaries, the author re-creates the aesthetic and philosophical ferment of the period. Brassaï: The Eye of Paris recognizes the artist's talents in five different media--photography, filmmaking, sculpture, writing, and drawing--but focuses on what he is best known for: lyrical and penetrating photographs of the City of Light. --John Stevenson
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 367 pages
  • Publisher: Harry N. Abrams (June 1, 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0810963809
  • ISBN-13: 978-0810963801
  • Product Dimensions: 10 x 1 x 13.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4.9 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,940,966 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

78 of 82 people found the following review helpful By mds38@aol.com on November 26, 1999
Format: Hardcover
For lovers of great photography, one of the real gaps for a long time has been a monograph on this master of Euorpean street photography, whose images of Paris in the 30's in particular are among the greatest of their kind. Since the unfortuante deletion of the magnificent mid-80's reissue of PARIS BY NIGHT there has literally been nothing available except an over-priced paperback from Germany (I beleive) that has made its way to US museum bookshops and the like. What great news it was that Abrams, who are one of the best houses for this sort of thing, was publishing a major catalogue to accompany the travelling exhibit now at the National Gallery in Washington. The book was delayed several times earlier this year (no doubt to the chagrin of the museums the exhibit has already passed through) and has finally arrived in time for Christmas.
It is sad indeed to report that the book is a total disappointment- at least so far as the images themselves are concerned:
One: The source material and printing of the picutres are truly second-rate - without richness, luster, or dimension. Many look like photocopies from magazines or other books. They are oddly glossy but flat. Compare these to the incredible matte reproductions in PARIS BY NIGHT and the contrast between what can be done with with what is here is nearly heartbreaking.
Second: What is with the recent tendency to print photographs in an oversized, right-to-the-edges format with no sense of border or space to let the composition breathe and no sense of frame lines. The bleed-over simply kills the impact of many of these photogrpahs. It's a ruinous way to present great imagery. (It afflicts Abrams' new Bill Brandt book as well but to a lesser extent because the printing of that book is so much better.
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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on November 30, 2000
Format: Hardcover
I am surprised that this book has gotten such mixed reviews here -- it is the definitive book on the subject. The essays are full of new information and elegantly presented. The design of the book, bleeds and all, remind me of the particular way Brassai made his books (which is why we care about Brassai today). The reproductions look like the original prints! The book is smart and real.
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20 of 28 people found the following review helpful By CROwens on November 29, 1999
Format: Hardcover
I saw this exhibition at the National Gallery of Art and bought the book. The exhibition blew me away and so did the book! It is the best exhibition book on photography I have seen. The print quality of the photographs is superb and the text is excellent. This book is a lesson in photography, political science, and sociology.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Mr. Terrence K. on March 31, 2007
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The pictues are outstanding and the commentary very interesting. It is an excellent value and a great look at Paris in the Pre-WWII era.
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