Brassaï’s most famous facet is that of photographer, although he has produced outstanding creative work in other fields such as writing, painting, drawing and engraving. In 1934, directly inspired by his collaboration with Pablo Picasso who he had been working with for two years, Brassaï decided to experiment with the technique of engraving onto glass photographic plates. He worked on thirty or so negatives of female nudes dated from 1931 to 1935, printing around 150 proofs covering the various states of the photographs at different moments in the process of altering the original material. In 1967 he published a selection of twelve images from the series, brought together in a portfolio of photogravures called Transmutations, a reference to the mutations of the human body by the plastic intervention on the photograph. The result of this experimental work is an example of creative activity combining a number of media, continuing a line from earlier investigations based on photomontage and collage. The series evokes both Surrealist creative processes and other poetic metaphors from more rational beginnings and visual research, such as those of late Cubism, to which Brassaï had access through his work with Picasso.
Concha Calvo Salanova