Day 105: Eva Besnyö at Jeu de Paume: until the 23rd

by Sara

“Here are a few facts about Eva Besnyö: She was born in Budapest, the second of three girls. Her father was Bela Blumengrund (1877-1944) and her mother was Ilona Kelemen (1883 – 1981). She was Jewish, and her father, who was a lawyer, changed his name to the Hungarian sounding one in order to get ahead. She grew up fluent in Hungarian and German.

In 1928, rather than attending the university like her older sister, Panna, she became a student of the relatively forward thinking, Hungarian photographer Jozef Pesci. In 1929, while still Pesci’s student, she received a copy of the photo album Die Welt ist Schon (The World is Beautiful) by the German photographer Albert Renger-Patzsch. According to Besnyö, the book changed her life.  It is also in 1929 that she began making the photographs that reveal Renger-Patzsch’s immediate impact as well as Besnyö’s ability to look at the the harsh facts of everyday life without becoming sentimental.

The other influence on Besnyö was Låslø Moholy-Nagy’s New Vision, a term he coined to define his belief that photography enabled the viewer to see the world in ways the eyes could not. In 1930, at the age of 20, she moved to Berlin, rather than to Paris, where Hungarian photographers such as Andre Kertesz and Brassaï had gone. According to Besnyö, “The whole German side interested me. Paris was the Romantic, old-fashioned trend. The second reason was Gyørgy Kepes, who was a good friend of mine and had gone to Berlin as an assistant to Moholy.””

(John Yau, Hyperallergic)