Andre Kertesz: On Reading | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

Andre Kertesz: On Reading 

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Hungarian emigre Andre Kertesz's 1971 book of photographs On Reading pays testimony to what Roland Barthes called "the pleasure of the text." Taken between the early 1920s and the late 60s in disparate places--Paris, Manila, Buenos Aires, suburban Connecticut--these candid black-and-white photos capture people poring over print. The readers vary from scholars in libraries to sunbathers on rooftops, from monks in cloisters to Bowery bums standing over a trash can. Kertesz, always alert to the street's revelations, also took shots of artworks depicting readers and, in an instance of his characteristic wit, a shot of a beetle crossing a page printed in Latin. Given the subject, the photographer (who died in 1984) might have preferred this series to always appear in books, but the Museum of Contemporary Photography's exhibition features 36 previously unpublished images, some made after 1971. The curators have hung the entire show with an eye toward Kertesz's sly sense of humor, juxtaposing three pictures that feature feet, for example. Donated by Richard A. Hanson, this collection adds to the embarrassment of riches at the museum, which is also showing recent acquisitions in "In Sight," also through August 5. Through 8/5: Mon-Fri 10-5, Thu till 8, Sat noon-5, Museum of Contemporary Photography, Columbia College, 600 S. Michigan, 312-344-7104.

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