Lot 4
  • 4

André Kertész

50,000 - 70,000 USD
bidding is closed


  • André Kertész
  • Gelatin silver print
mounted, signed and dated in pencil on the mount, penciled notations on the reverse, framed, a National Gallery of Art exhibition label on the reverse, 1937


Christie's New York, 20 April 1994, Sale 7864, Lot 47, Nathalie Karg, Ltd., New York, agent


New York, Guggenheim Museum, Speaking with Hands: Photographs from The Buhl Collection, June - September 2004

Washington, D. C., National Gallery of Art, André Kertész, February – May 2005, and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, June - September 2005

Kunsthalle Museum Bielefeld, Germany, 1937, Perfection and Destruction, September 2007 - January 2008

Palm Beach Photographic Centre, In Good Hands: Selected Works from the Buhl Collection, March 2011

Middletown, Delaware, Warner Gallery at St. Andrew's School, In Good Hands: Selected Works from the Buhl Collection, October - November 2011


Jennifer Blessing, Speaking with Hands: Photographs from The Buhl Collection (Guggenheim Foundation, 2004), pp. 115 and 225 (this print)

Sarah Greenough, Robert Gurbo, and Sarah Kennel, André Kertész (National Gallery of Art, 2005), pl. 81 (this print)

André Kertész, Sixty Years of Photography, 1912-1972 (New York, 1972), p. 179

John Szarkowski, André Kertész, Photographer (The Museum of Modern Art, 1964), p. 46

Jane Corkin, André Kertész: A Lifetime of Perception (New York, 1982), p. 157

Cornell Capa, Susan Harder, and Hal Hinson, André Kertész: Diary of Light 1912-1985 (Aperture, 1987), pl. 103

|Pierre Borhan, André Kertész: His Life and Work (New York, 1994), p. 249

In Focus: André Kertész (The J. Paul Getty Museum, 1994), cover and pl. 41

Masterpieces of the J. Paul Getty Museum: Photographs (The J. Paul Getty Museum, 1999), p. 43

Catalogue Note

Arm and Ventilator was taken by André Kertész shortly after his move to America from Paris in 1936.  Initially under contract with Keystone Studios, he soon found employment in New York as a freelancer, publishing photographs in Harper’s Bazaar, Vogue, Town and Country, and other magazines.  He continued his personal work during this time, adapting his eye to see the photographic possibilities of a new country.  The present image demonstrates Kertész’s fondness for capturing the uncanny with his lens.  The disembodied arm, positioned between the menacing blades of a large exhaust fan, provides a visual puzzle that the camera does not readily explain.  This is one of a small number of photographs within the Buhl Collection in which the hand and its arm seem in imminent danger, and it is this vulnerability that gives the image its power. 

Although Kertész disavowed Surrealism, this juxtaposition of arm, hand, and fan blade would have delighted such disciples of Surrealism as Man Ray and Duchamp, or Dora Maar and Georges Hugnet.  In Paris, Kertész’s distortions (see Lot 13) had operated in this aesthetic terrain, as did his Broken Plate, for example. And in America, it is ground he would continue to cover throughout his career, with views made from his Washington Square window or rooftop, and, finally, in the series of color Polaroids taken at the end of his life.  

The Buhl Collection print offered here was included in the Guggenheim Museum’s Speaking with Hands exhibition, but did not travel to that show’s subsequent venues.  Instead, it was requested by the National Gallery of Art for Sarah Greenough’s major Kertész retrospective and traveled with that exhibition throughout 2005.