BRASSAI: “THE LANGUAGE OF THE WALL”

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Best known for his photographs of nocturnal Paris and its demimonde, Brassai also took pictures of wall carvings and markings over three decades. Published in 1961 in the collection Graffiti, the prints were divided into sections, including painted graffiti, which Brassai titled The Language of the Wall. Brassai was interested in how the images eventually altered, either through additions by later graffiti artists or because of the vagaries of time. Here, chance has worked to magically reveal the symbol of Free France, the double-barred cross of Lorraine, at precisely the moment of the country’s liberation at the end of World War II. Adopted as a countersymbol to the Nazi swastika, the cross had been painted out, presumably during the German occupation of France. The symbolic meaning was perfectly evident to Brassaï, who captioned the photograph, “The political struggle on the wall. General de Gaulle’s Cross of Lorraine, covered over with black paint, begins to reemerge.”

 

(All rights reserved. Images @ the Estate of Brassai.)