Had the good fortune to visit the Brassaï exhibition at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art this past weekend. The photographer Gyula Halász (1899-1984), was born in Brassó, Hungary, and signed his work “Brassaï,” meaning “from Brassó,” eventually taking the name Brassaï.
I find all of his work from 1930s Paris fascinating (I recommend The Secret Paris of the 30s by Brassai), but seeing his portraits of Anaïs Nin and Henry Miller in person were special highlights for me, given my ongoing research on Nin’s dress and appearance in the 1920s and 1930s.
Photography was allowed, so I snapped a few photos before buying the exhibition catalogue.
The striking differences between these two portraits can be accounted for, in part, by the fact that Anaïs Nin posed formally for hers, whereas Henry Miller’s photograph was taken, according to Brassaï (in Henry Miller: The Paris Years), as Miller turned up in the doorway of Brassaï’s Paris hotel room one day.