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André Kertész: Postcards from Paris



Photographer André Kertész (American, born Hungary, 1894–1985) arrived in Paris in the fall of 1925 with little more than a camera and some savings.

By the end of 1928, he was contributing regularly to magazines and exhibiting his work internationally alongside well-known artists like Man Ray and Berenice Abbott. The three years between his arrival in Paris and his emergence as a major figure in modern art photography marked a period of dedicated experimentation and exploration for Kertész. During this time he carved out a photographic practice that allowed him to move between the realms of amateur and professional, photojournalist and avant-garde artist, diarist and documentarian.

Im048981 Int Press

Chez Mondrian, 1926

André Kertész. The Art Institute of Chicago, Julien Levy Collection, gift of Jean and Julien Levy, 1975.1136. © Estate of André Kertész 2021

For those three years only, Kertész produced most of his prints on carte postale, or postcard, paper. Although his choice may have initially been born of economy and convenience, he turned this popular format toward artistic ends, rigorously composing new images in the darkroom and making a new kind of photographic object. The small scale of the cards also allowed them to circulate in a way befitting an immigrant artist—shared with a widening circle of international friends at the café table or sent in an envelope to faraway family. 

Postcards from Paris is the first exhibition to bring together Kertész’s rare carte postale prints to offer new insight into the artist’s early, experimental years, during which he made some of his most iconic images. The works operate as both images and objects, as made clear by the interplay between careful observation, intimate scale, and daringly cropped formats. Kertész’s early Paris works also communicate the possibilities of the French capital as a meeting ground for international artists—a city where the lessons of avant-garde painters, sculptors, and poets could resonate for a photographer finding his way.

Installation Photo


Lead support for André Kertész: Postcards from Paris is generously provided by Nicholas and Susan Pritzker.

Major support is contributed by The André and Elizabeth Kertész Foundation.

Additional support is provided by Vicki and Bill Hood.

Members of the Luminary Trust provide annual leadership support for the museum’s operations, including exhibition development, conservation and collection care, and educational programming. The Luminary Trust includes an anonymous donor, Neil Bluhm and the Bluhm Family Charitable Foundation, Karen Gray-Krehbiel and John Krehbiel, Jr., Kenneth C. Griffin, the Harris Family Foundation in memory of Bette and Neison Harris, Josef and Margot Lakonishok, Robert M. and Diane v.S. Levy, Ann and Samuel M. Mencoff, Sylvia Neil and Dan Fischel, Anne and Chris Reyes, Cari and Michael J. Sacks, and the Earl and Brenda Shapiro Foundation.


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