View Full Version : Kertesz and Composition

Thomas Bertilsson
06-15-2007, 03:59 PM
I had the opportunity to view a fair amount of Andre Kertesz prints in the flesh the other day, and I was astounded by all of them. There are compositional elements that are shared between prints, and that after some comparisons and study looked as if they were obvious to me. Note, I am not an expert by any means, and I could well have seen what I wanted to see.

However, one of the prints, which I'm sure a lot of you have seen, 'The Tulip', has an optical illusion baked into it. I was wondering if either of you had any information on how this was actually done. I believe he used distorting mirrors, and I know there are at least two exposures because there is a 'shadow' of the blossom in the actual print, don't know if it's visible in the attachment or not.

Thankful for some thoughts and insight on this.

- Thomas

Ian Leake
06-16-2007, 01:20 AM
Unfortunately I don't have a print of this photo in a book so I have to go on the attachment. I'm not sure, but think I can see a shadow of the flower just above it.

Assuming this is correct (not just my dodgy eyes), I would guess that this is a photo taken of a distorting mirror (so we're seeing a reflection), and that it was a long exposure during which the tulip sagged a bit (so we see a bit of before, but mostly after). A better print may disprove this theory though.

tony lockerbie
06-16-2007, 01:59 AM
Kertesz used mirrors a lot for his distortion photos, all started with the underwater swimmer, probably the first photo taken with the subject being distorted. Of course this wasn't a mirror, just the natural affect of the water. I always assumed that "Tulips" was a reflection in a mirror.

06-16-2007, 07:28 AM
Yes... I think it's a reflection in a distorted mirror. Didn't he also use the distorted mirror for several nude figure studies as well?

This example is lovely, btw, thanks for reminding me!

Thomas Bertilsson
06-16-2007, 10:26 AM
Thanks for chiming in. I can say that having seen the real prints they are absolutely stunning. This one just shines. I never thought about it being a super long exposure, therefore the flower 'sagging' making it look like a multiple exposure. Good point!
Suzanne, he did do some figure studies using this technique as well, unfortunately the MIA didn't have any of those prints, however.
As an aside, the museum just received a large gift (400 prints) from a collector in North Dakota, some of which are going up on exhibit in July.
Check out http://www.artsmia.org if you live in the area. The exhibit is free.
- Thomas

06-18-2007, 12:18 PM
Didn't he also use the distorted mirror for several nude figure studies as well?

Yes. In the late 20s or 30s. Caught quite a lot of flack for it too, if I remember correctly. "Pornographic," I think.