A Glimpse of 1930s Paris
Rare images from Brassaï and Henry Miller’s collaboration, Quiet Days in Clichy
A man stares at a woman in a bar. A couple kisses in the shadows of an archway. A street light flickers and Brassaï is there, taking photographs.
Known for his street scenes of Parisian life, Brassaï teamed up with Henry Miller for the novella Quiet Days in Clichy. Based loosely on Miller’s own experiences as a struggling expat, the novella follows a two writers’ quests for love and life. What made the work unique was that the first edition included Brassaï’s photographs as well.
The images, some of which were published in Brassaï’s seminal Paris de Nuit, are all taken at night. Brassaï was fascinated by Paris in the evening, attracted to the strange shapes and people that emerged in the City of Light once the day had gone. This push and pull between light and dark, seen and unseen, black and white, is emulated by the subjects he chooses to photograph. Men and women are rarely pictured in harmony; they are in competition or isolation together.
A selection of 27 of these images is on display now at the Howard Greenberg Gallery in New York. The gallery has shared 10 of them with us below.