An exhibition of André Kertész’s paintings opened at the Capa Center

An exhibition of paintings donated by photographer André Kertész to Szigetbecse opened on June 26, the Night of Museums in Budapest, at the Robert Capa Contemporary Photography Center.

The world-famous Jewish photographer of Hungarian origin spent his childhood summers in Szigetbecse, and the experiences he gained there had a great impact on him. In the material of the exhibition, which opened on the Night of Museums, visitors can see photographs that Kertész himself selected at the twilight of his life as a gift to the settlement that gave him such magical childhood experiences, the Capa Center said on Tuesday. 

As recalled in the museum’s announcement, the world-famous photographer spent his childhood and youth partly in Szigetbecse with his relative, Mihály Klöpfer, in whose attic he found several old German newspapers illustrated with woodcuts and lithographs. One of these was Die Gartenlaube. Looking at these, a desire arose in him that one day he would take similar pictures. After this, he started consciously preparing to be a photographer and experience the art of creating images.

Over time, Szigetbecse and its surroundings became more important to him than any other Hungarian settlement.

“Becse did not become important and defining because of my relatives, but because I was able to get so close to nature and to those with whom I experienced this. Later, whether I photographed a landscape or a man in Tiszaszalka, Esztergom or Haraszti, or in France or New York, the landscape of Besce and the people of Besce were reborn in every picture,” the photographer recalled.

André Kertész last visited Szigetbecs in the year before his death, in 1984, and then returned to New York, donating 120 photos to the settlement a few months before his death — not only images related to Szigetbecs, but also well-known pieces of his oeuvre, providing a unique overview of his works. 

“Kertész got a lot from the village. And, in turn this village was precious because of Kertész. If anyone in this country, Europe, Japan or Patagonia has heard anything about Kertész, they have also heard about Szigetbecse. Few Hungarian villages can say this about themselves,” stated the museum’s press release, highlighting a comment from Károly Kincses, the curator of the exhibition. 

In addition to the defining photographs of Kertész’ oeuvre and the photographs taken in Szigetbecse, the exhibition at the Capa Center also has personal and decorative objects donated to the settlement by André Kertész, several of which were featured in old Polaroid photographs. The exhibition thus provides an exceptional insight into the everyday life and art of the world-famous photographer, read the museum’s announcement.

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