View Full Version : Discuss an Andre Kertesz Photograph

10-20-2007, 06:52 AM
A favorite of mine.

Central Park, NY
April 3, 1965

I love this photograph for few simple reasons, but would like to hear your thoughts on it, too.

10-20-2007, 07:12 AM
Hi Suzanne, I find it playful and energetic. It actually exhausts me somewhat by the amount of energy. :) The rabbit figure is what really fascinates me - and noone's looking at him. My eye wonders around the image also taking in the lady in the top right corner looking at (is it a dog?) busying himself. What is the dog actually doing? The kid coming down the slide with the tones of the metal is captivating, imo the only peaceful part of the image.

Ian Grant
10-20-2007, 07:25 AM
This is a Kertesz image I've never seen before, either published or at exhibitions of his work.

To me the image is too busy and not typical of the simpler images I've seen of his before. Normally I only hang photographs in my home but I do have a Paris Exhibition poster of one of Kertesz NY park images.

I don't dislike this particular image, but to me it looks more like a Bresson. Moving to the Aegean I've only been able to bring a few books so far (airline weight restriction) but my first choice was one of Andre Kertesz's work.

I've been lucky to see three major exhibitions of his work, two were of modern enlargements but the highlight was original contemporary prints made at the time 30's -60's, much smaller prints but jewel like and sparkling with a glowing quality, unlike the much later enlargements.

What's interesting is how different people respond to the same image.


David H. Bebbington
10-20-2007, 07:25 AM
The perfect synthesis of observation and anticipation - the placing of the figures is masterly.



10-20-2007, 12:01 PM
Haven't seen this one before either. Great fun, wouldn't have thought it a Kertesz. Works with photography's greatest strength, the "thereness" of a picture. The key to it was catching the child at the moment of plopping out of the tube at the bottom -- without this, not much.

Gay Larson
10-20-2007, 02:58 PM
I think it is an image most people could relate to. It is complex yet fun and what I like most is it would be hard to date from the last 50 years. It could be today. There is something so pleasant about it. It makes me think of when I was a kid and life was so fun and simple. I do like the rabbit, straight out of Alice in Wonderland. I think the rabbit may be a statue as it seems to be attached to a base of some sort, which could be why no one is paying much attention to it.

Ian Grant
10-20-2007, 03:43 PM
When I first replied I overlooked something, I thought it but didn't write it.

This images is fundamentally about kids at play. Now as such its a good image but I'm not a family man, and it really doesn't evoke any emotions, so I see it as a good image but very definitely not a great image and I also I have problems relating it with the rest of the Kertesz work I already know.

I made a point of having a good look through a book of Kertesz's images earlier before I replied, to me this image just isn't Kertesz at his best. I'll ask my wife what she thinks :D


10-20-2007, 03:56 PM
Kids at play are a bit like ants or bees. At first glance they appear to be a group whose actions are unconnected but there's cohesion and concerted action there. The photographer has caught this as well as posing a couple of questions. What's the woman in the background doing? She seems to have a sense of urgency and appears to be running but is she and why?

Why is there a female in the bunny outfit there? Then you notice one kid who is the only one in dark clothes who seems to be a little more detached but is he out of the loop or in fact overseeing things?

The best photos ask questions or pose questions and create conversations. This does that.


Black Dog
10-20-2007, 04:20 PM
HCB quite rightly said " we all owe something to Kertesz"-he looked at things we see and pass by everyday and sprinkled a little magic of his own on them. He remained a true visionary throughout his life but hasn't always recieved his due.

Shawn Dougherty
10-20-2007, 04:22 PM
I'm a fan or A.K. and hadn't seen this either. For me it tells a somewhat cryptic yet universal story or life... from a representation of birth(girl at the bottom), children's imaginary world seemingly unseen by the supervising adults(the rabbit (also makes me think of Alice in Wonderland) and moving right through to old age at the top and all sectioned off into areas of the frame. Thanks for showing us this wonderful image. Shawn

10-20-2007, 04:35 PM
This is a wonderful image. I have been thinking for quite a long time how to compose pictures like this with different things happening in different parts of the frame. I haven't been able to find any hints on how to actually do it, though. This picture just works, without following any rules.

10-21-2007, 08:43 AM
I find this photograph effective because it's such a random and ordinary urban scene, and yet it seems to be about birth... death... and everything in between. I love it when a photograph of something so very ordinary can become so extraordinary.

It's not typical of Kertesz except for the angle, perhaps. Normally his pictures have fewer people in them. I first saw this photograph when a photography instructor showed it to the class, and said you don't see this one much. It took me years to finally find it in a book... so I quickly bought the book, and have studied the image from time to time over the years.

How to get this type of shot, Matti?? Persistence and commitment, I suspect, and a well trained eye to recognize when the stars are about line up for you in front of your lens! :)

David H. Bebbington
10-21-2007, 10:47 AM
This is a wonderful image. I have been thinking for quite a long time how to compose pictures like this with different things happening in different parts of the frame. I haven't been able to find any hints on how to actually do it, though. This picture just works, without following any rules.

As I said, Matti, observation and anticipation. The children are sliding down the slide, running around to the top and sliding again, so it's not too hard to predict where they will be. Kertesz was presumably on a bridge, so out of line of sight of the people below. so no one noticed him (always good to photograph people who are heavily absorbed in something, they won't see you). He thus had enough time to wait for the 2 unpredictable elements in the picture (the boy running towards the slide and the old lady at top right) to place themselves ideally. Allowing for the difference in attitudes between the time this picture was taken (1950?) and now, it's still not too hard to get pictures like this at an amusement park or similar venue. This is a very good picture, but it was taken by a human being, not God!



Scott Peters
10-21-2007, 11:57 AM
I love it. Corners are great, tension with lines, great eye movement, some intital ambiguity with the large rabbit, the vantage point, from above is wonderful...so, this playfulness, with the tension of the abstractness of the image...wonderfully seen. I mean, how many would have 'cropped' or 'seen' this image from this vantage point?

Bill Mitchell
10-25-2007, 03:45 PM
It's a nice picture of a bunch of kids playing, taken by a great photographer. My first thought was Kertesz, my second was Eisenstadt. In fact, had it been posted here with no name attached, I might have suspected that it was yours. (I'm still enjoying the images of your kids running in the back yard, and in sheets.)
It's a hard subject to not make a good picture, but although I can't see it, there must be something special in it that appeals to you.
Thanks for posting it.

10-25-2007, 04:22 PM
I've never seen a Kertesz image other than in books or web. But the Southeast Museum of Photography (http://smponline.org/) is opening in new quarters Nov 3rd, and one of the initial exhibits will be prints by Kertesz during his Hungarian period.

10-25-2007, 04:56 PM
I love the way so much is going on - the unexpected and the magical aswell as people just getting on with things - almost like a Bruegel painting. The viewpoint adds to it feeling like a canvas. And what is that dog doing in the background? Eating something unspeakable?...

Black Dog
10-26-2007, 09:17 AM
.....or about to roll in it....

10-26-2007, 09:38 AM
In so many of his photos there is such a wonderful balance of impromptu human expression with meticulous, geometrical lines and curves. This is no exception, there is the characteristic geometry and he fills every bit of the frame with it- it's hard not to notice the symmetry of the fences tending carefully to the corners and the feeling that every line and contour has a place to be. I suppose this underlying emphasis of (and reliance on) geometrical balance is what most strongly distinguishes his work from that of HCB. Their treatment of time is similar; their treatment of space is very different.

What I think is intriguing in this particular shot is that he captured the kids around the whimsical figure in such a way that the figure initially looks almost like an ordinary member of the crowd. Also interesting is that the child at the bottom is truly in a world of her own, if only for an instant... likewise the figure at top right, and the pair of girls beside the top of the main group.... so many separate lives placed within one neat composition. I get a similar feeling from so many of his photographs.

I hadn't seen this one before; thanks for posting it.