Photography: Brassai: The Night Watchman

A superb retrospective in Houston sheds light on Brassai, the great chronicler of Paris after dark

In the same way that violinists can be counted on to have remarkable hands, a lot of photographers have great eyes. Brassai's were bouncing balls under aerodynamic eyebrows. You can pretty much imagine them in action when he told people how he got seriously involved with the camera, a development he liked to explain by way of a story he heard from Isadora Duncan, the famous dancer. For a long time she couldn't bear the sight of the pianist whom her rich lover had hired as her accompanist. One day she and the luckless musician were riding face-to-face in a carriage....

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