Homing Ship

1944, Printed 1980
Silver Gelatin Photograph

Signed and dated in pencil on verso.

In Homing Ship, taken in 1944, a figure perhaps of a child, carries a model schooner across from Conservatory Pond in Central Park back to the boathouse.

The picture presents a body of water, front and center, a puddle essentially, that has become magnified and takes half of the whole composition. Through a sophisticated use of movement and form, the image creates a metaphor of spatial inversion and poetic allusions. Kertész justifies the boat out of the water, referencing that he is also searching for a reconnection to his element.

Kertész rarely titled his work, opting for the more practical use of time and place. He did although, often reproduce this photograph with the title Homing Ship. This title suggested homesickness and melancholy, which he had been experiencing in New York for the last ten years since his arrival from Paris.

Homing Ship is a moment of hope and illusion.

What better messenger to carry the illusion of a dream than that of a child? The promise of returning home, to the cafés, to the Parisian avenues, away from the poverty and suffering, that was now a remote possibility.

Near the end of Kertész life, John Sarkowski, then acting director of photography at MoMA, discovered his fantastic body of work. By 1968, Sarkowski gave Kertész a full retrospective. From that point on, Kertész rekindled his career and became championed as a great pioneer of modern photography. Kertész’s photographs have a beauty and poetry that lack pretension. They are “foundation” material for many classic museums and private collections. Homing Ship is one of Kertész’s most poignant and poetic pictures. It connects the eye, the brain, and the heart in an almost surreal manner, like an apparition from a dream.