Exhibition - Brassaï

Saturday, Feb 20, 2021 at 10:00am

Marlborough New York
40 West 57th Street
New York, NY 10019

Please call before attending any community events. It is likely that they will be postponed or canceled as a result of the coronavirus. You can find CDC coronavirus information at cdc.gov/coronavirus; AARP has additional resources at aarp.org/coronavirus.

The Directors of Marlborough New York are pleased to present Brassaï, an exhibition of seminal photographs by the lauded Franco-Hungarian artist that redefined the collective perception of nocturnal Paris and its underground subcultures during the 1930s. The exhibition will open on Tuesday, December 1, 2020, and will remain on view through Saturday, January, 30, 2021. Comprised of 39 photographs printed by the artist, the exhibition culls some of his most iconic images from the series Paris by Night, Secret Paris, Paris by Day, and The Artists of My Life.

Brassaï (1899-1984) primarily favored living la vie de noctambule (the life of a nightwalker) during the years in which he was capturing scenes around Paris for his photographic series: climbing towers and balconies, surveying quiet parks through locked fences, and walking the Seine, the railroad tracks and the boulevards. 

In 1976, he explained, “I was eager to penetrate this other world, this fringe world, the secret, sinister world of mobsters, outcasts, toughs, pimps, whores, addicts, inverts. Rightly or wrongly, I felt at the time that this underground world represented Paris at its least cosmopolitan, at its most alive, its most authentic.”

Brassaï never exposed more than two or three negatives of a subject. Such quick decisions demonstrate his prowess for capturing fleeting moments, a skill which certainly served him well in the crowded cafes and dancehalls as well as in dark alleys where lingering was unwise.

The selection of images from Brassaï’s nighttime series form a sort of visual time capsule depicting the many facets of what the colorful Parisian nightlife of the 1930s had to offer. Reminiscing in later years, Brassaï recalled that he and the poet Jacques Prevért “reveled in the beauty of” what they believed to be, at the time, “sinister things.” Appearances by notorious figures of the queer scene of Montparnasse like Fat Claude and Madame Bijou serve as formidable foils to the portraits of lionized male artists— Braque, Maillol, Miró, and Picasso, which are also on view. The exhibition articulates the artist’s egalitarian eye, the same dignity afforded to the master artist shown in his prime is given to the so-called “doyen” of the Parisian vagabonds.

This will be the first time in nearly forty years that Marlborough will showcase Brassaï’s photography. Anne Wilkes Tucker, author of Brassaï: The Eye of Paris (Museum of Fine Arts Houston, 1999), has contributed a new essay for a fully illustrated publication that will accompany the exhibition.

Marlborough New York follows New York State’s guidelines for physical distancing amidst the COVID-19 pandemic.  It is essential that visitors wear a face mask and observe the six-foot social distancing rule at all times when interacting with our staff or with other visitors. Contactless temperature checks will be taken upon entry, and information will be gathered at Reception for contact-tracing of all visitors. For further information, contact info@marlboroughgallery.com .

Exhibition Date: December 1, 2020 – February 27, 2021 

Appointments encouraged but not necessary. To make an appointment, please call +1 (212) 541 4900 or email gichan@marlboroughgallery.com  

This event listing provided for the New York community events calendar. Community events are not associated with or sponsored by AARP, but may be of interest to you. If you have an event to share, let us know!

Images provided by AmericanTowns.com, Ticketmaster

More from AARP in New York

Upcoming AARP Events

View All AARP Events »


Find information about getting a COVID-19 vaccine in your state. CDC information is available at cdc.gov/coronavirus; additional AARP information and resources are at aarp.org/coronavirus. En español, visite aarp.org/elcoronavirus.

AARP Member Card

Join or Renew Today

JOIN FOR JUST $16 A YEAR

  • Immediate access to your member benefits
  • Discounts on travel and everyday savings
  • Subscription to the award-winning AARP The Magazine
  • An ally on the issues that matter most to you in New York
  • Free membership for your spouse or partner
JOIN NOW