Kati Horna was born Katalin Deutsch in 1912. She worked in her native Hungary, France, Spain and Mexico. She was a refugee, part of a generation of Hungarian photographers forced to flee their country in the 1930s.
“I fled Hungary, I fled Berlin, I fled Paris, and I left everything behind in Barcelona… It’s for vagabonds like me. Because my clothes got torn on the route, I selected photography.”
– Kati Horna
Fellow artists who fell foul of Nazis and their views on “degenerate art” and hatred of Jews included André Kertész, Horna’s childhood friend Robert Capa, Eva Besnyö, László Moholy-Nagy, Nicolás Muller, Brassaï, Rogi André, Ergy Landau and Martin Munkácsi.
In March 1933, when the National Socialist Party came to power, Horna fled to Paris, where she was reunited with Capa. Armed with a 6×6 Rolleiflex, she became a street photographer, recording life in Paris flea markets and cafés for the agency Lutetia-Press.
Her eye often fell on things that didn’t quite fit, like fractured dolls and masks. Artist Saul Steinberg, a fellow Jewish artist forced to flee Nazi Europe, shared an interest in masks. “The personal remark, the visible emotion, has no place in society,” he said. “Of course [a mask is] something that’s useful, it’s necessary, but it’s also something ugly, because it takes away all the poetry, the spontaneity of life away from people. The more organised society, the more we have these masks.”
Horna photographed the Spanish Civil War (1936-1939), at the request of the Spanish Republican government between 1937 and 1939, working alongside Gerda Taro and Capa. She photographed at the Aragon front, Valencia, Barcelona, Madrid and a number of provincial villages. Her work was published in the Spanish anarchist magazines Umbral (where she met her future husband, Jose Horna), Tierra y Libertad, Libre-Studio, Tiempo Nuevos and Mujeres Libres.
“Photography, with its various possibilities, allows you to liberate and develop your own sensibility and express it in graphic images.”
– Kati Horna
.“The camera is not an impediment. It is oneself!”
– Kati Horna
First publish in 2014. The exhibition at Jeu de Paume
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