André Kertész - The Odyssey of Collecting: Photographs from Joy of Giving Something Foundation New York Tuesday, October 3, 2017 | Phillips

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  • Provenance

    Estate of the artist
    Weston Gallery, Carmel, 1995

  • Literature

    Phillips, Travis and Naef, André Kertész: Of Paris and New York, p. 208

  • Catalogue Essay

    This early large-format exhibition print of Distortion with Vase bears André Kertész’s first New York studio stamp that he used for a brief period after his arrival in America in October of 1936. As of this writing, only one other early print of this image has been located: in the collection of The Metropolitan Museum of Art.

    Kertész began incorporating visual distortion into his images at the start of his career, with 1917’s Underwater Swimmer being the earliest example. He continued to employ various distortion techniques in the following decades, often to subvert an otherwise conventional photographic genre such as the nude or the still life. In 1933, he executed his largest group of Distortions on assignment for the risqué magazine Le Sourire, whose editors provided him with studio space, two models, and a pair of funhouse mirrors. Within a phenomenally productive two-week period, Kertész produced around 200 nude Distortions. It is possible that Distortion with Vase was made during the Sourire sessions, although there is uncertainty about its date. Robert Gurbo, of the André Kertész Estate, speculates that it may have been made in a subsequent Paris session, or possibly during the photographer’s first year in New York City.

    Distortion with Vase was included in Kertész’s first exhibition in this country, at the PM Gallery in New York in 1937. The gallery was run by PM magazine, a trade publication for the advertising and publishing industries, and the exhibit was intended to showcase Kertész’s versatility as a photographer. Hungarian and Parisian work hung alongside more recent photographs made in New York. Kertész felt strongly that the Distortions had the most commercial potential of his images, and the show included a significant selection of these. Distortion with Vase can be seen on the wall in an installation shot of this exhibition (Of Paris and New York, p. 92). The image was also included in Of Paris and New York in 1985, the most comprehensive museum exhibition of Kertész’s work during his lifetime, and one which he had a hand in organizing. Distortion with Vase is a precursor to 1939’s Melancholic Tulip, which makes similar use of a distorting mirror to elongate the shape of the vessel. The two photographs are illustrated together in the exhibition catalogue for Of Paris and New York (p. 208).


Distortion with Vase

Gelatin silver print.
13 5/8 x 7 1/8 in. (34.6 x 18.1 cm)
Signed in pencil on the mount; '317 E. 44th ST.' stamp (New York Stamp #1) on the reverse of the mount.

$30,000 - 50,000 

Sold for $56,250

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The Odyssey of Collecting: Photographs from Joy of Giving Something Foundation

New York 3 October 2017