André Kertész - PHOTOGRAPHS New York Friday, October 8, 2010 | Phillips

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  • Provenance

    Edwynn Houk Gallery, Chicago

  • Literature

    Borhan, André Kertész: His Life and Work, p. 212 there titled Distortion no. 6; Ducrot, André Kertész: Sixty Years of Photography, p. 73 for a detail there titled Distortion no. 6; The New Vision: Photography Between the World Wars/ Ford Motor Company Collection at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, p. 64; Knopf, Distortions: André Kertész, n.p.

  • Catalogue Essay

    The only other known print of this image is in the collection of the
    Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York
    As the hub of avant-garde cultural, intellectual and artistic expressions
    in the 1920s and 30s, Paris attracted some of the most prominent thinkers
    from across the continent. Their centralized convergence encouraged and
    propagated the continuous challenging, deconstruction and re-presentation
    of norms—from literary to musical—and as we see in André Kertész’s iconic
    Distortion #6, visual. As a Hungarian émigré, Kertész quickly immersed
    himself in the zeitgeist, befriending artists such as Piet Mondrian and Marc
    Chagall, both of whom had been gaining momentum for their subversive
    artistic style, all but divorced from the populist, traditional representational
    style favored at the time. The artistic dialogue among the different Parisbased
    visionaries accordingly engendered movements that, for branching off
    the status quo, resulted in innovative cognitive means to visualize the human
    By the early 1930’s, during the time Distortion # 6 was made, Kertész had
    already established his reputation as a photographer. In 1933, under Lucien
    Vogel’s commission and encouragement, Kertész created what would
    become one of his most celebrated bodies of work, Distortions. By posing his
    models next to carnival-style mirrors, Kertész abstracted the human figure in
    ways that had not been done in photography heretofore. While photographers
    on the other side of the Atlantic, such as Edward Weston, were abstracting
    the human figure through cropping, lighting and posing, Kertész did so
    through optical warping, as seen in Distortion # 6. The attenuated torso, the
    dramatic elongation of the hand, the narrowing of the waist and the swelling
    of thighs reveal a quintessentially Modernist sensitivity that called for a need
    to shuffle understanding and presentation of the human figure. For the image
    to have been conceived and cleverly executed within the realms—and then,
    limitations—of photography, attests to Kertész’s groundbreaking vision.



Distortion #6, Paris

Gelatin silver print, printed 1933 by the artist in Paris from the original glass plate negative.
9 1/4 x 6 7/8 in. (23.5 x 17.5 cm).
Numbered '6' twice in an unidentified hand in pencil, ink, and copyright credit stamp on the verso.

$30,000 - 40,000 

Sold for $42,500


8 October 2010
New York