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  • Nature Morte, Chez Mondrian has become a signature work within André Kertész’s extensive oeuvre. Its deceptively simple composition belies Kertész’s revelation of found objects precisely placed within the frame, his deft use of negative space, and his unique ability to imbue quotidian objects with poetic mystery. Made in the studio of Piet Mondrian at the request of editor Michel Seuphor, this photograph is one of a series of remarkable domestic still-lifes and studio views that collectively create a portrait of the Dutch painter.

     

    André Kertész’s In Mondrian’s Studio, 1926 shows Belgian painter, writer, and critic Marcel Seuphor; Juozas Tysliava; Louis Saalborn; and Mondrian (not in sale)
    André Kertész’s In Mondrian’s Studio, 1926 shows Belgian painter, writer, and critic Marcel Seuphor; Juozas Tysliava; Louis Saalborn; and Mondrian (not in sale)

    This image figured importantly in Kertész’s early career. It was shown in his first one-man exhibition in Paris at Au Sacre du Printemps gallery in 1927, at the Galerie L’Epoque in Brussels in 1928, at the Fotografie der Gegenwart in Essen and the highly influential Film und Foto exhibition in Stuttgart in 1929. The König Albert Museum in Zwickau acquired a print in 1929, making it one of the first Kertész photographs to enter a museum collection.

     

    Poster for Film und Foto exhibition, 1929 (not in sale)

    The print offered here comes originally from a small trove of Kertész photographs belonging to sculptor Etienne Béothy sold at auction in 1996. Like Kertész, Béothy (born István Beöthy) was part of the circle of Hungarian expatriates who settled in Paris in the 1920s, and the two shared a close friendship. Kertész’s now-iconic Satiric Dancer was photographed in Béothy’s studio, and one of his sculptures is visible on the left side of the image.

     

    Early prints of Nature Morte, Chez Mondrian are exceedingly rare. As of this writing it is believed that only three other 1920s examples of the image have appeared at auction.

    • Provenance

      Collection of Etienne Béothy, Paris
      Sotheby’s, London, 2 May 1996, lot 147
      Collection of Howard Stein, New York
      Sotheby’s, New York, 175 Masterworks to Celebrate 175 Years of Photography: Property from Joy of Giving Something Foundation, 11 December 2014, lot 29

    • Literature

      Corkin, André Kertész: A Lifetime of Perception, p. 127
      Phillips, Travis, and Naef, André Kertész: Of Paris and New York, pp. 136 and 261
      Greenough, Gurbo, and Kennel, André Kertész, pl. 51
      Frizot and Wanaverbecq, André Kertész, p. 81
      Ducrot, ed., André Kertész: Sixty Years of Photography, 1912-1972, p. 116
      Centre National d’Art et de Culture Georges-Pompidou, André Kertész, unpaginated
      Aperture and ICP, André Kertész: Diary of Light, 1912-1985, pl. 71
      Jane Corkin Gallery, A Stranger to Paris: Photographs by André Kertész, 1894-1985, p. 55
      Borhan, André Kertész, His Life and Work, p. 174
      Travis, Photographs from the Julian Levy Collection, Starting with Atget (The Art Institute of Chicago), p. 81 and rear cover
      Heiting, et al., At the Still Point: Photographs from the Manfred Heiting Collection, Volume II, Part 1, p. 339

212

Nature Morte, Chez Mondrian

1926
Gelatin silver print.
3 5/8 x 4 3/8 in. (9.2 x 11.1 cm)
Titled and dated 'Chez Mondrian, Paris, 1928' and credited 'Foto: Andre Kertesz,' in ink and pencil on the verso.

Full Cataloguing

Estimate
$150,000 - 250,000 

Contact Specialist

Sarah Krueger
Head of Department, Photographs

Vanessa Hallett
Worldwide Head of Photographs and Deputy Chairman, Americas

 

Photographs

New York Auction 8 April 2021