The View From My Window: André Kertész’s Views of New York

In 1952 André Kertész moved to a 12th-floor apartment near Washington Square Park. This is some of what he saw from his window...

“In our home for blind monks and beggars, Kertész is a seeing brother”
– Paul Dermée (1886 – 1951)

 

Budapest, 1915. André Kertész Selfie

Budapest, 1915. André Kertész Selfie

Forced to leave his native Hungary for life in France by anti-Jewish persecution, André Kertész (2 July 1894 – 28 September 1985) arrived in New York on an assignment for the Keystone agency in 1936. War prevented his return to Paris, where he had flourished. He’d been a major player in the Parisian art scene during the inter-war period. But in New York, Kertész had to begin anew. Necessity, perseverance and talent enabled him to earn a living in a strange land and eventually thrive. But he never felt at home. “People here don’t look at things in a romantic way,” he said in 1985, ”but I am looking always; looking back, and at the new things, too. I don’t give up… I never give up. This is the only way to give some color to life.”

Kertész was naturalized on 3 February 1944. In 1952, he and his wife Elizabeth moved to a 12th-floor apartment near Washington Square Park. Using a telephoto lens, he took pictures of the scenes outside his window. He would continue to photograph the everyday views below, the shapes, shadows and people you never know but just see around until his death in 1985. The view from his eerie pans from New York University to the Hudson River, the World Trade Center Towers marking its midpoint. And what he shows is solitary, private activity, the focus on individuals in the flux of busy life. It’s all lyrical and poetic. But can you detect a trace of bitterness and longing in Kertész’s reclusive distance from subjects he shows in isolation from a god’s-eye vantage point? It’s his yearning to belong, the photographer’s quintessential love of life, that make these pictures so captivating.

 

Weather Vane and New York Skyline, September 19, 1952. Photo: André Kertész

Weather vane and New York skyline. Sept. 19, 1952

Birds Eye View, Washington Square Park, September 25, 1969,

Birds Eye View, Washington Square Park, September 25, 1969,

“Each time André Kertész’s shutter clicks, I feel his heart beating”
– Henri Cartier-Bresson

 

André KertészSelf-portrait, New York, 1974

Self-portrait, New York, 1974

André Kertész Washington Square, 1966

André Kertész Washington Square, 1966

Washington Square at night. 1954.

Washington Square at night. 1954.

Image Washington Square Day. 1954.

Washington Square Day. 1954.

A Winter Garden, New York, 1970. Photo: André Kertész

A Winter Garden, New York, 1970. Photo: André Kertész

Children and Shadows in Park, 1951. Photo: André Kertész

Children and Shadows in Park, 1951. Photo: André Kertész

Washington Square, December 25 1969. André KERTÉSZ

Washington Square, December 25 1969. André KERTÉSZ

washington square park 1962

Washington Square Park – 1962

Image Washington Square Day. 1954.

Washington Square Day. 1954.

New York. Circa 1970s.

New York. Circa 1970s.

The lost cloud New York, 1937 André Kertész © Ministry of Culture / Media Library for Architecture and Heritage / Donation André Kertész

The lost cloud
New York, 1937
André Kertész
© Ministry of Culture / Media Library for Architecture and Heritage / Donation André Kertész

New York Washington Square. June 3, 1976.

Washington Square. June 3, 1976.

23rd Street, New York. Sept. 11, 1970.

23rd Street, New York. Sept. 11, 1970.

Poughkeepsie New York, 1937 André Kertész © Ministry of Culture / Media Library for Architecture and Heritage / Donation André Kertész

Poughkeepsie
New York, 1937
André Kertész
© Ministry of Culture / Media Library for Architecture and Heritage / Donation André Kertész

Via:Bruce Silverstein Gallery , “The balancing actor, André Kertész: 1912-1982” at Jeu de Paume