The body of work Szász created from the late 1950s through the 1970s, epitomizes the artistic vision and innovation of photographers active in Hungary during the years of Communism. Featuring boldly graphic abstractions primarily drawn from Hungarian life and landscape, Szász’s images communicate through a universal vernacular. Working in the tradition of Hungarian greats such as André Kertész and László Moholy-Nagy, János Szász’s images are notable for their experimentation with radical perspectives, formalist compositions, and stark, black and white contrast printing. By manipulating darkroom exposure and processing techniques and experimenting with mixing various chemicals, Szász often reduced his subjects to pattern. He utilized a darkroom process he invented which involved chemical over-processing, then painstakingly bleaching over toned areas with a paintbrush to arrive at his dynamically graphic images.
After graduating from university in 1948, János Szász intended to become a lawyer, but found himself ‘disqualified’ to practice law under the Communist regime due to his father’s army rank. Szász, instead, turned to photography while supporting his family as graphic artist and sign painter. Within ten years, Szász’s photographs were being widely exhibited and acclaimed among the Socialist countries. During the 1960s and 70s, Szász worked for the Pécs architectural office, documenting buildings in the region, and his 1975 publication on folk architecture won several awards including the Leipzig Book Fair prize in 1977.
In the sixteen years since his death, János Szász (1925-2005) has become the most recognised Hungarian photographer of his generation internationally. He is represented in many Hungarian photographic collections, the Hungarian Museum of Photography and the Spilman Center of Photography (Israel), the MAST Collection (Italy), and in several top tier European and US collections. In May 2017, the sale of one of his images („Bürüs / Rainy Afternoon”, 1973, 18 x 24 cms, GBP 3750) at the “Discerning Eye – Property from the Eric Franck Collection” auction held by Sotheby’s in London resulted in this image becoming per square inch the most expensive Hungarian photograph ever sold from the post-WWII period.
Apart from public institutions, Szász has been exhibited in public institutions on three continents, in leading private galleries such as Robert Koch Gallery at Art Fairs like AIPAD and Paris Photo, and has been featured in leading publications on art and photography such as Weltkunst, L’Oeil de la Photography and Collector’s Daily.