Lot 29
  • 29

André Kertész

100,000 - 150,000 USD
bidding is closed


  • André Kertész
  • Gelatin silver print
  • 3 5/8 x 4 3/8 inches
credit 'Foto: André Kertész' in ink and 'Chez Mondrian' and date '1928' in pencil, on the reverse, 1926


Collection of Etienne Béothy, friend of the photographer and fellow Hungarian expatriate in Paris

Sotheby's London, 2 May 1996, Sale 6256, Lot 147


Jane Corkin, André Kertész: A Lifetime of Perception (New York, 1982), p. 127

Sandra S. Phillips, David Travis, and Weston J. Naef, André Kertész: Of Paris and New York (The Art Institute of Chicago and The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1985), pp. 136 and 261

Sarah Greenough, Robert Gurbo, and Sarah Kennel, André Kertész (Washington, D. C.: National Gallery of Art, 2005), pl. 51 

Michel Frizot and Annie-Laure Wanaverbecq, André Kertész (Paris: Jeu de Paume, 2010), p. 81

Nicolas Ducrot, ed., André Kertész: Sixty Years of Photography, 1912-1972 (New York, 1972), p. 116

André Kertész (Centre National d'Art et de Culture Georges-Pompidou, 1977), unpaginated

André Kertész: Diary of Light, 1912-1985 (Aperture and The International Center of Photography, 1986), pl. 71

A Stranger to Paris: Photographs by André Kertész, 1894-1985 (Jane Corkin Gallery, Toronto, 1992), p. 55

Pierre Borhan, André Kertész, His Life and Work (Boston, 1994), p. 174

David Travis, Photographs from the Julien Levy Collection, Starting with Atget (The Art Institute of Chicago, 1976), p. 81 and rear cover

Pierre Bonhomme, Patrimoine Photographique (Paris, 1999), p. 326

LIFE Library of Photography: The Great Themes (New York, 1970), p. 79

Manfred Heiting, et al.At the Still Point: Photographs from the Manfred Heiting Collection, Volume II, Part 1 (Los Angeles and Amsterdam, 2000), p. 339

Catalogue Note

Nature Morte, Chez Mondrian, belongs to a small group of Kertész still life studies that suffuse the objects of daily life with poetry and mystery. Taken in the studio of Piet Mondrian, the image functions as an inventive portrait of the painter, whom Kertész had met in 1926.  Other studies from that day are memorable: the artist's bed and easel, abstracted into a composition of overlapping rectangles; a single artificial tulip on a table near the stairs; Mondrian holding a pipe and gazing directly into the camera.  In an early critical assessment of the photographer in L’Art Vivant, Florent Fels described him as 'un prestigieux créateur de poèmes, et ses métaphores sont d'humbles objets.’

Nature Morte, Chez Mondrian, occupies an important place in Kertész's early exhibition history. It was shown in his famous one-man exhibition in 1927, at the Au Sacre du Printemps gallery; at the Galerie L'Epoque, Brussels, in 1928; in Essen, at the Fotographie der Gegenwart, 1929; and at the prestigious Film und Foto in Stuttgart that same year.  Julien Levy may have included it in one of his pioneering exhibitions in New York in 1932 or 1937.  Always recognized as an important work within the photographer's oeuvre, it became one of the first Kertész images to enter a museum collection when a print of it was purchased by the König Albert Museum in Zwickau after the Film und Foto show (cf. Of Paris and New York, entries for cat. nos. 21 and 63).

The print offered here was owned originally by the sculptor Etienne Béothy (born István Beöthy) (1897–1961), one of a circle of Hungarian expatriates in Paris in the 1920s and a close friend of the photographer.  The Kertész icon, Satiric Dancer, was made in Béothy’s studio; one of Béothy’s sculptures appears in the image on the left.  A year after Kertész’s show at Au Sacre du Printemps, Béothy had his own exhibition there.  In the 1996 Sotheby’s London sale from which the present print comes, five other Kertész photographs from Béothy’s collection were offered, along with photographs by Béothy himself.