Paris de nuit

Paul Morand
1888 to 1976
1899 to 1984
Arts et métiers graphiques

Brassaï is the pseudonym of Guyla Halász from Transylvania (Hungarian at the time of his birth, but currently part of Romania). Brassaï literally means: from Brasso (his native village). He decided to use this pseudonym in 1932, the year in which Paris de nuit was published. He had already been living in Paris for eight years, where he wrote articles for German magazines and met photographers such as Atget and André Kertész. Not until 1930 did he first begin to take photographs himself, immediately discovering his main subject: Paris.

He moved into an apartment on the corner of the Rue de la Glacière and the Boulevard Auguste-Blanqui in 1928, where Raymond Queneau also lived. Brassaï would sometimes go out at night with Queneau or other nocturnal people such as Léon-Paul Fargue, but he usually just walked through the abandoned streets and alleys of the city. He could only take 24 photographs per walk because the stack of glass photo plates would otherwise grow too heavy.

His nocturnal journeys yielded a wealth of photographs which by now have gained the iconic statusin modern photography. They were first published on 2 December 1932 by Arts et metiers graphiques, which was Charles Peignot's publishing business. He was also the founder of the magazine Arts et metiers graphiques (1927-1939) in which articles on design, typography, illustration and advertising appeared. It was printed in an edition of 4000 copies: printers were also associated with the editing staff, like Léon Pichon. Peignot was the president of type foundry Deberny et Peignot, and were in contact with the Union des Artistes Modernes (Cocteau, Gide, Sonia Delaunay, Maximilien Vox and others) and with poster designers such as Cassandre.

The first review of Paris de nuit was published in a Dutch newspaper, the Nieuwe Rotterdamsche Courant of 29 December 1932. An English edition of the photo book appeared in 1933 from Batsford Gallery in London. The photographs were also exhibited. Many photo books were to follow, including a book in 1960 about the graffiti on Parisian walls, which he had documented in his photographs since 1930. Not without reason did Henry Miller call him 'the eye of Paris'. Jean Paulhan actually asserted that Brassaï had more than two eyes.

Bibliographical description

Description: Paris de nuit : 60 photos inédites de Brassaï / Paul Morand. - Paris : Arts et Métiers Graphiques, [1932]. - [12] p., 62 pl. : ill. ; 25 cm. - (Réalités)
Printer: Draeger (december 1932)
Bibliography: Bénézit 2-751
Shelf-mark: Koopm L 471


  • Anne Baldassari, Brassaï, Picasso: Conversations avec la lumière. Paris,Réunion des musées nationaux, 1999
  • Brassaï. New York, The Museum of Modern Art, 1968
  • Brassaï. Paris, Centre Pompidou: Seuil, 2000
  • Paul van Capelleveen, Sophie Ham, Jordy Joubij, Voices and visions. The Koopman Collection and the Art of the French Book. The Hague, Koninklijke Bibliotheek, National Library of the Netherlands; Zwolle, Waanders, 2009

Photograph 3: ...les toits de Paris...
Photograph 3: '...les toits de Paris...'

Photograph 3: '...les toits de Paris...'

Photograph 6: La Gare Saint-Lazare vue de Pont de lEurope
Photograph 6: 'La Gare Saint-Lazare vue de Pont de l'Europe'

Photograph 6: 'La Gare Saint-Lazare vue de Pont de l'Europe'

Photograph 11: La nuit et léclairage intérieur...
Photograph 11: 'La nuit et l'éclairage intérieur...'

Photograph 11: 'La nuit et l'éclairage intérieur...'

Photograph 48: Des terraces de lAutomobile Club, la Place de la Concorde...
Photograph 48: 'Des terraces de l'Automobile Club, la Place de la Concorde...'

Photograph 48: 'Des terraces de l'Automobile Club, la Place de la Concorde...'