Brassai (1899-1984) is one of the great figures of twentieth-century photography. Born in Brasso, Hungary, he studied at the academies of Budapest before moving to Paris in 1924. Initially interested in painting, he turned to photography in the early thirties at the suggestion of fellow Hungarian André Kertész. He published his first book, Paris by Night, in 1933, which granted him recognition as a peerless chronicler of the city. At this time Brassai also became interested in graffiti and shared his discoveries with the Surrealist circles he frequented.
Brassai became interested in the marginal art form of graffiti in the 1930s, seeing it as a form of outsider art that could open the door to new forms of artistic expression. His atmospheric photographs capture the essence of this unfettered creation. Stark contrasts of black and white alternate with softer shades of grey that meld into one another, smoothing the harsh gouges typical of graffiti.