In this picture of Montmartre, I was just testing a new lens for a special effect. When I went to America, I left most of my material in Paris, and when I returned I found sixty percent of the glass-plate negatives were broken. This one I saved, but it had a hole in it. I printed it anyway. An accident helped me produce a beautiful effect.
Born in Budapest, at the age of 30 André Kertész moved to Paris to pursue a career as an artist and found freelance work for dozens of European magazines. With his wife Elizabeth he was forced to leave Europe for the United States in 1936 where he worked on conventional assignments for the publishing house Condé Nast. His innovative work was rediscovered in the 1960s and he was exhibited at the Museum of Modern Art in New York in 1964.
A surrealist strain runs through Kertész's vision and part of this is an appreciation for the accidental. Through misadventure many of his glass plates were broken. Finding them again almost 40 years later, he was able to foresee that this bullet-like fracture had changed an ordinary view into something remarkable.
Text © National Gallery of Australia, Canberra