Paris is intriguing in that it is less about homosexual practice and more about making public the secret social rituals of the homosexual subculture of the 1930s. It is a documentary statement of the ordinary private conduct. Brassai does not judge his subjects but simply presents them as they present themselves to one another.
Born Gyula Halász (1899-1984) he took the French pseudonym, Brassaï, in honor of his Hungarian hometown in Brassó, Transylvania. The young artist moved to Paris where he intended to paint, but took up photography when he recognized the camera’s inimitable ability to capture the light in the dark, and the way it revealed itself on silver gelatin paper. These images, which earned him the title of “the eye of Paris” on an essay by Henry Miller, gave Brassaï instant entrée to café society and the haute monde, to the glorious glamour and decadence that was Paris between the World Wars. In this fleeting moment of history, Brassaï captured it all.
The Bal de la Montagne Sainte-Geneviève is a dance hall from another era located on a hill above the Sorbonne in Paris, France. Inside, couples move together across the dance floor. Everyone dresses in their finest; a big band is on stage, and; the floor is always mobbed and throbbing with dancers.