Similar to Chez Mondrian in its quietude, Mondrian's Pipe and Glasses strikes one immediately as both still life and portrait study. Stunningly reductivist in nature, the gathered objects are simplified and united by the harmony of their forms. These are offset by the plain white field on which they rest, reminiscent of Mondrian's lozenge paintings from the same period. Kertész has managed to truly abstract the glasses, the pipe and bowl from their context. They are metonymic devices, parts of a sum called into duty to represent the whole equation. When viewed with Chez Mondrian (lot 176) and Mondrian's Studio (lot 186) Kertész clearly but quietly displays the austerity with which the artist lived.
Pipes and Glasses heralds Kertész's fully developed vision, affording the photographer an approach he relied upon throughout his career, from portraiture to street scenes. For example, his portraits of pianist Paul Arma from 1928 (see: Phillips, et al., Of Paris and New York, cat. nos. 59-62, pp. 156-7) and the Constructivist inspired Rooftops and Chimneys (lot 182) and Telephone Wires (lot 183) all incorporate a related tactic in formalist abstraction. Like Man Ray's autobiographical Rayographs (see illustration below), Kertész distills personal meaning in the frank description of objects, imbuing them with the personality of their owner and thus extending the definition of portraiture.