No, even if it disappoints the Baiser de l'hotel de ville poster afficionados, Robert Doisneau wasn’t the only one to photograph Paris. Georges Brassaï, once called The Eye of Paris by his friend, the American writer Henri Miller, offered one of the most haunting and stigmatized series of photographs of the city of lights.
While Doisneau focused his work on an anecdotal Paris through the years, Brassaï sunk into the darkness of the city, Paris' night life. This vision is the result of an exploration of the city on 3 levels. First, Paris' shades and shadows, which he discovered through his nocturnal walks, pacing up and down the streets like a wanderer. Second, the microcosm of Paris night life that he frequented from one bar to another cabaret. Third, Paris' artists, where his friendships with Picasso, Dali, Cezanne, Miller and the Surréalists (he worked for Le Minotaure) allowed him to capture the ultimate instant of creation. These are the 3 visions that this exhibition features, through some pictures borrowed from his book Paris de nuit, for the first time in the US.
Here you may contemplate the feminine curves of the bridges whose roundness is revealed by the moon in the womb of the Seine. Le Roi Soleil, graffiti in the porte de St-Ouen's area, will give you an appraising look with his empty eye, while La dame aux bijoux, and other weird, hetero, and gay couples or prostitutes will welcome you to their nocturnal parties. Finally, you will be privileged to follow his artist friends such as Picasso grappling with their art (L'Orateur, Pablo Picasso near the boiler). In addition, there are Mediterranean views of Spain, Monte-Carlo (Exotic Gardens with his sisters among the cacti) or the French Riviéra (the promenade of Cannes).
So, it’s time to change your old dusty poster of Doisneau , on sale at the supermarket near you, with Brassaï's dark and warm Paris.
Brassaï: The Eye of Paris
Getty Center, Los Angeles
April 13, 1999 – July 3, 1999