Hungarian's Innovative Action Shots at Manezh

Moscow House Of PhotographyLater a fashion photographer, Munkacsi got his start as a sports journalist.
Head to the Manezh this month and month to feast your eyes on photos by Martin Munkacsi, a man who inspired photographers such as Richard Avedon and revolutionized fashion photography.

Born in 1896 in Koloszvar, Hungary (today Cluj-Napoca, Romania), Munkacsi was the fourth of seven children from the Mermelstein-GrЯnwald family (His father changed the family last name to Munkacsi to avoid inciting anti-Semitism). At age 16, Munkacsi moved to Budapest, where he earned money working as a sports and daily news journalist and photographer. His photography quickly brought him attention and landed him a position as a photographer in Berlin. He later signed a contract with the major publisher Ullstein and travelled around the world photographing individuals and communities in places such as Ankara, Cairo, South America and Jerusalem. In 1934, he moved to New York, where Carmell Snow of Harper's Bazaar and Edward Steichen of Vogue offered him work as a fashion photographer.


Moscow House of Photography
Tap-dancer Fred Astaire became one of the artist's most famous subjects.


The Moscow House of Photography's exhibition in the Manezh, "Think While You Shoot!" provides a glimpse of what allowed Munkacsi to become the highest-paid photographer in the world of fashion. His works depict a wide range of subjects, from sports stars and celebrity icons to orphaned children, smiling mothers and slouching workers. For instance, in "Men Carrying Barrels" (1929), Munkacsi captures two men trudging through the streets of Turkey, heads turned downward, bodies bent under the weight of wooden barrels that they bear upon their backs. In "Lovely Autumn -- the Last Warm Rays of Sunshine" (1929), two women sunbathe cheek to cheek in the sand, revealing the relaxation and contentment found on their German beach.

"His photographs allow us to look into the eyes of people of all ages," remarked photography student Julia Kylai. "He captures the unordinary and makes an impression on the observer."

Munkacsi played with movement and diagonals, often preferring to photograph in the open air as opposed to indoors. "Never pose your subjects," he wrote in 1935 for Harper's Bazaar. "Let them move more naturally. All great photographs today are snapshots." In 1933, Munkacsi made photographic history when he brought model Lucile Brokaw out of the studio and photographed her running on Long Island beach in a bathing suit, cape billowing behind her. "Munkacsi's was the first action photograph made for fashion," noted Alexei Brodovitch of Harper's Bazaar in 1934, "and it started the trend that is climaxed in the work of Richard Avedon today."

Munkacsi continued photographing to the end of his days. In July 1963, he suffered a heart attack during a football match he was photographing, ironically ending his life the very moment he was memorializing that of others.

"Think While You Shoot!" runs until Nov. 23 at the Manezh Central Exhibition Hall, 1 Manezh Square. M. Borovitskaya. www.mdf.ru +7 (495) 737 6647.