• josutherstphotography

Sustainable Prospects – FOAM – André Kertész

A further exhibition at FOAM focuses on the work of André Kertész.  The exhibition ‘Mirroring Life’, contains more than 200 of his photographs. The retrospective presents a chronological overview of Kertész’s extensive body of work.


Kertész is known for his unusual composition in his images.  He did not comment on his work and this adds to the attraction of the work for me as I try to interpret the narratives he has produced. The exhibition covered images from his early practice right through to his later work.


My visual record images of the display are shown below.


Kertész’s “Distortions” are a series of nudes that he produced in 1933. Kertész conducted a series of experiments with optical distortions.  He used different materials to mirror, stretch and distort the bodies beyong recognition.


I was fascinated to see these miniature images in their display cabinet. The patterns and shapes that Kertész produced are abstract and confusing. There is a humorous feel to the images as they reminded me of the mirrors in a circus or funfair that distort our bodies in strange and amusing ways.


Kertész produced the series of images during the spring of 1933.  He worked in a studio to create the work.  This is in contrast to his normal methodology of shooting in public places. The subject was also a bit of an exception for him.  He shot nudes by exception.  He is best known for the nudes in this series.  The images were created with 2 models and 3 mirrors. His equipment of choice was a large format camera with a zoom lens as this helped to give him the distorted effects he was aiming to achieve.


Kertész experimented with his shots, cleverly constructing the images with his use of shadow and light, distortion and deformation created by the mirrors. He made full use of the reflections and mirrored images in the successful images. We normally use mirrors to reflect an image, whereas Kertész produced images where the subject and content are often unrecognisable. This makes the work intriguing and makes me wonder where the idea for the work came from.  I want to know more.


The models in his images are made anonymous by the distortion.  We are unable, as viewers, to make sense of the images. We struggle to determine the message that Kertész was trying to communicate with us. The body has become merely an object in these images. Whether or not the image creation was driven by a fetish or voyeurism, the images certainly have an intimate and compelling feel to them.  We are drawn in, partly due to the size, partly because of the content and partly due to the measurements and notes around them.


This particular part of the exhibition held my interest for quite some time.  I admit to being fascinated by the distortions.  I would probably have been the ideal viewer for Kertész. I engaged fully with the work and spent a great amount of time studying the images in attempt to decipher the images.


Examples of the work are shown in my visual records below.


Having been exposed to the work of Kertész earlier in the MA course, it felt like a real privilege to have seen the work on display. A real highlight of my visit to FOAM.


#Amsterdam #FOAM #September2017

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