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    Sale 1985

    Photographs

    11 April 2008, New York, Rockefeller Plaza

  • Lot 418

    BRASSAÏ (1899-1984)

    Couple d'amoureux dans un bistrot, rue St. Denis, c. 1931

    Price Realised  

    Estimate

    BRASSAÏ (1899-1984)
    Couple d'amoureux dans un bistrot, rue St. Denis, c. 1931
    gelatin silver print, printed 1950s
    numbered 'Pl.17' in ink and '81, Faubourg St-Jacques' stamps (on the verso)
    11¾ x 9in. (29.8 x 22.9cm.)


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    Brassaï was a natural-born raconteur who trained to be a painter. Arriving in Paris at the age of twenty-four, he turned to journalism to earn his living. A few years later, at the end of the 1920s, photographically illustrated picture magazines had become enormously popular. Brassaï soon realized he could supply his own photographs to illustrate his articles and thus increase his earnings. He taught himself photography following a brief initiation by his compatriot André Kertész. Captivated by the variety of nocturnal life in the French capital and with few commissions, he made numerous series for his own satisfaction.

    By the early 1930s, after the publication of his book Paris de Nuit, a number of magazines arose, including Scandale, Secrets de Paris and Paris Magazine, that catered to an interest in risqué subjects such as nudity, crime and prostitution. These magazines offered a lucrative new venue for Brassaï's photographs made in previous years. Paris Magazine was one of his favorites because the owner, a Mr. Léon Vidal, paid immediately. Brassaï used to joke that Mr. Vidal ran a full-service empire because, in addition to the magazine, he owned the erotic bookshop, Librairie de la Lune, a sexy-lingerie company, Diana Slip and a condom factory.

    The present lot was first published in Scandale in 1934 as part of a sequence of four images that begins with the man alone, next is the initial encounter (the present image), followed by playful wrestling, and it ends in an embrace.

    Provenance

    Gilberte Brassaï to the present owner


    Literature

    St.-Bonnet, 'Confidences...' Scandale, no. 10, May 1934, p. 43 (part of a sequence of four images); Brassaï, The Museum of Modern Art, 1968, p. 71; Brassaï. Henry Miller: Grandeur nature, Gallimard, 1975, p. 9; Brassaï. Le Paris Secret des Années Trente, Chêne, 1976, p. 78; Sayag and Lionel-Marie, Brassaï: The Monograph, Little, Brown and Co., 2000, p. 86