When an artist dies, the responsibility for the remaining artworks often falls to a spouse, a relative, or in some cases, a long time friend or studio associate. Some families set up estates, trusts, and other legal entities to actively manage the artist’s legacy, while others simply place the artworks in safe keeping of some kind, awaiting an opportunity to quietly place them with interested buyers.
Brassaï passed away in 1984, and since that time, there have been plenty of gallery shows, comprehensive museum retrospectives, and major sales of his work, so it would be reasonable to assume that whatever was left behind when he died was long ago picked over and sifted through by industrious gallery owners, museum curators, and other interested parties. But as is often the case, family members tend to squirrel away some of their favorites, living with them in their homes and keeping them out of the purview of the art market machine. And just when we think the well might have run dry for rare vintage examples of a deceased photographer’s best work, sometimes we get lucky and a few gems pop out from these family collections.
Such is the case with this show of Brassaï’s 1930s work drawn from the collection of Madame Brassaï.