Andre Kertesz

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Budapest, Hungary
Birth Sign
Budapest, Hungary

Hungarian-born Andre Kertesz was a photographer who was a pioneer of the photojournalism and photo essay movements. Despite the fact that he is now regarded as one of the most significant photographers of the twentieth century, he believed he was never given the credit or acclaim he deserved. He was one of the first photographers to try to create a story with his images rather than just capture a moment with his camera. He believed that the visual medium was powerful, and that a well-placed photograph could transmit emotions and feelings far more effectively than words could. His interest in photography began during his boyhood, when he spent time in the countryside observing the slow pace of life. After losing his father while he was young, he grew up with the help of his uncle, who wished for him to become a stockbroker. But Andre, who is both creative and artistic, had other ideas. He became fascinated by the idea of photography and chose to pursue it as a career. He emigrated to the United States after WWII, where he pursued photography with zeal and became a key figure in photojournalism.

Childhood and Adolescence

Andor Kertesz was born into a middle-class family in Budapest on July 2, 1894. His father, Lipot Kertesz, worked in a bookshop, while his mother, Ernesztin Hoffman, was a stay-at-home mom. Andor was the younger of two brothers.

In 1908, his father died of TB, leaving a bereaved widow and three young children without a means of support. Fortunately, his mother’s brother was able to support the family and took them in.

The little youngster grew raised on his uncle’s farm in the countryside, where he discovered his artistic abilities. His schooling was funded by his uncle, who enrolled him at the Academy of Commerce, where he graduated in 1912.

Andor’s family anticipated him to work in the stock exchange after completing his education, despite his lack of interest. He was more fascinated by the photos in illustrated periodicals, which piqued his interest in photography.

The Career of Andre

His uncle arranged for him to work as a clerk at the Budapest Stock Exchange, where he began in 1912. He had no intention of returning to the same line of work. With the money he saved from his job, he was able to purchase his own camera, an ICA box camera.

He photographed local peasants, the Hungarian countryside, people going about their daily lives, and so on. In 1912, he is thought to have shot his first photograph, ‘Sleeping Boy.’ In 1914, he quit his work at the stock exchange to pursue photography as a career.

When World War I broke out, however, he volunteered in the Hungarian army. In his spare time, he continued to take images and began selling them to periodicals. His images were initially published in the magazine ‘Érdekes jság’ in 1917.

In 1918, peace was declared, and he returned to his prior position at the stock exchange. In his spare time, he continued to take images. He left the stock exchange in the early 1920s because he was bored with his employment.

He began working in agriculture and beekeeping, but due to the turbulent political circumstances in his nation, this endeavor was short-lived. He was obliged to return to work at the stock exchange once more.

He desperately wanted to go to France to study photography at one of the schools there, but his mother forbade him. While keeping his job at the stock exchange, he explored photography in his spare time.
On the cover of the Hungarian news magazine ‘Érdekes jság’ on June 26, 1925, one of his images was featured. This incident drew a lot of attention to him.

He moved to Paris in September 1925, where he worked on commission for numerous European periodicals. His images were soon published in periodicals in Germany, France, Italy, and the United Kingdom. He changed his name from “Andor” to “Andre” during this time.

His move to Paris paid off, as his works received critical and financial acclaim. In 1927, he presented his first solo exhibition, and he went on to participate in a number of others over the years.

In 1936, he moved to New York City for a one-year contract with Keystone Studios. However, when World War II broke out, he elected to stay in New York. From 1939 through 1949, he worked as a freelancer for American publications such as ‘Look,’ ‘Harper’s Bazaar,’ and ‘Vogue,’ and became a US citizen in 1944.

In 1949, he joined Conde Nast Publications and worked on the visual aspect of the magazine ‘House and Garden.’ He stopped working for a living in 1962, but he continued to take images and hold exhibitions.

Achievements & Awards

In 1974, he was appointed Commander of the French Ordre des Arts et des Lettres.
In 1980, he received the Association of International Photography Art Dealers’ first Annual Award in New York.

Personal History and Legacy

In 1918, at the stock exchange where they both worked, he met Erzsebet Salomon, who later changed her name to Elizabeth Saly.

They fell in love and married in 1933, and they remained together until Elizabeth’s death in 1977.
On September 28, 1985, he died peacefully in his sleep after a long life.

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