Brassaï photographed graffiti on the streets of Paris for twenty-five years, from 1930 to the mid-1950s. This French-based photographer, journalist and writer of Hungarian origins captured the nocturnal, secret Paris of the thirties during the heyday of Surrealism. The magazine Minotaure published his photographs for the first time, along with a text on graffiti, in a December/January double issue (1933-1944). For years, Brassaï carried small notebooks which he made quick sketches of graffiti and recorded their location in order to photograph them under better lighting conditions or to see how they evolved.
The MACBA Collection includes a substantial number of Brassaï's graffiti photographs, taken in 1930, most of which were printed in a single print run in 1950. In some cases, the titles indicate the name of the street (Passage Prévot, Rue Perceval...) and all of them include the name of the series. Brassaï classified them according ethnological categories of his own devising: L'amour, Naissance du visage, La mort, Images primitives and La magie. The reference to automatism and cadavres exquis in the graffiti photographs is inevitable and reflects Brassaï's interest in the wonderful nature of fortuitous finds, the streets, and the art of children and of the mentally ill.
The first exhibition of Brassaï's graffiti photographs was held at MoMA, New York, in 1956, under the title Language of the Wall. Parisian graffiti photographed by Brassaï. The exhibition toured to the Institute of Contemporary Art (ICA) in London two years later.
While there are ideas about psychological and emotional developmental processes held within the sculptures I make, the things themselves are actual physical explorations into thinking, feeling, communicating and relating.