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Flammarion, 1993
154 pages
Fully illustrated, black & white.
ISBN: 2080121693

Brassai's interest in graffiti began in the early 1930s. He published photographs of carvings found on the walls of the French capital, accompanied by a commentary, in a 1934 edition of Surrealist review 'Minotaure', the first of numerous studies that he would complete in his lifetime. Graffiti seized the photographer's imagination: he would seek out interesting inscriptions in the working-class districts of the city, he would spend long hours in front of images waiting for the right light to take his photograph, and he would return to a specific piece of graffiti years after he first found them to record the effects of time. But these often violently carved lines, holes and figures also captured him intellectually, leading him to explore the meaning and impulses behind this raw art form, tracing its origins from the cave paintings of Altamira to the lava-preserved etchings of Pompeii, from the French Revolutionary 'scribbler', Restif de la Bretonne, to the walls of modern day Paris. The current publication reproduces a comprehensive selection of Brassai's photographs of graffiti along with facsimile pages from Brassai's graffiti sketchbooks, extracts from his conversations with Picasso on the subject, and several essays by Brassai published here in English for the first time. An essential volume in the artist's corpus of works, 'Graffiti' demonstrates the extraordinary prescience and freedom of thought that was to render this 'amateur' photographer one of the key figures of twentieth century art.


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