Martin-Gropius-Bau

Today after the Berlin Gallery I visited Martin-Gropius-Bau.

Martin-Gropius-Bau is an exhibition hall in Berlin currently featuring two photography exhibits: Hungarian photographer André Kertész (1894-1985) and Swiss photographer Daniel Schwartz.

Most of the photos from Kertész (native name: Kertész Andor) were contact prints made from original negatives, typically two-and-a-half centimeters by four centimeters. Many of them were compelling photographs, but it's tougher to enjoy a photograph when its longest side is only four centimeters. The museum made it a point to use only original prints, or prints approved by the artist, but it would have been nice to see at least one or two enlarged to their full potential.

But the artist's story was worth hearing regardless. The artist was born in Hungary, but a Parisian at heart (having lived there also) who spent most of his life in New York City. Based on impressions from the audio tour, and quotes from the artist, he seemed perhaps a bit full of himself, but some of his photographs were quite interesting, and of course shooting photographs in the 1920s offered a set of challenges unknown today, unless you happen to still use glass-plate negatives.

(To be fair, Kertész was not necessarily full of himself, that's probably not fair to say, but the audio-tour narration was overly effusive in its praise and commentary.)

The work from Schwartz is contemporary, large-format photography, taken mostly in the last 10 or 15 years: Iran, Uzbekistan, China, Afghanistan. Impressive, but I found the accompanying text, also printed in large format and framed alongside the photographs, a bit unnecessary.