Gyula Halàsz, known by his adopted pseudonym Brassaï (b. 1899, Braşov, Hungary; d. 1984, Nice, France), was a Hungarian-French photographer and filmmaker.
He studied at the Academy of Fine Arts in Budapest in 1918–19, and the Hochschule der Künste Berlin-Charlottenburg in 1920–22. In 1924, he moved to Paris and began work as a journalist. There he met photographers, Eugène Atget and André Kertész. Brassaï used photography for his assignments and came to appreciate the unique aesthetic qualities of the medium.
In the early 1930s, he began to photograph Parisian nightlife, which resulted in the publication of Paris de nuit in 1933. As a photojournalist, Brassaï made an important contribution to the concept of vernacular photography and blurred the distinction between ‘street’ photography and fine art. This reflected his interest in Art Brut and graffiti, which he documented in Paris over a period of time.
His first article on graffiti was published in Minotaure in 1933. In 1956, his solo exhibition, Language of the Wall: Parisian Graffiti photographed by Brassaï, was held at the Museum of Modern Art, New York. The following year, he was awarded the gold medal for photography at the Venice Biennale.
Brassaï Graffiti, a collection of his images and writings was published in 1960, and a book of his Paris photographs, The Secret Paris of the 30’s, was published in 1976, the same year he was awarded Chevalier de la Légion d’honneur.