Untitled (Wire)/ Cím nélkül (Drót), c. 1970 Vintage gelatin silver print, with the photographer's 'Pècs - Hungary' stamp on the reverse. Framed. 17.8 x 12.8cm (7 x 5 1/16in).
Dr. János Szász was born in 1925 in Pécs, Hungary. After studying law at university, he was ultimately disqualified from forging a career as a lawyer under the Communist regime due to his father's army rank. Defiant, he kept his title as 'Doctor of Law' and turned to photography, supporting his family by working as a sign painter.
Working most prolifically through the 1960s and '70s, usually from his bathroom and kitchen and in sometimes near impossible economic and political conditions, Szász's passion for his craft, together with the limits that were put on thematics and subject-matter during these years, led him to experiment with photographic technique as an outlet of self-expression: he was a master of developing, drying and printing methods, and scratched into his negatives with blades and brushes, producing prints in very small numbers. Szász developed a deep knowledge of photography, his work heavily influenced by Modernist art and its graphic, abstract aesthetic. It was only in the early Eighties, dogged by the onset of cataracts, that his practical innovations slowed pace. He continued to teach and lecture on photography for decades, and was a regular contributor to Photojahrbuch International, the leading almanach of the so-called socialist countries.
Like so many Hungarian photographers of his time, Szász's photographic talent was only truly recognised later in his career: in 1980, he won the Ministry of Culture Award for his advertising work, and he was later awarded the prestigious Hungarian Association of Photoartists Lifetime Achievement Award in 2000. More recently, Szász's photographs were the focus of the European Cultural Capital 2010 project in his hometown of Pécs, and his work was exhibited at Hotshoe Gallery in London during the summer of 2011 to coincide with the Royal Academy of Arts' sell-out show, Eyewitness: Hungarian Photography in the 20th Century.