It’s unlikely that any single artist has ever been — or ever will be — as intimately associated with Paris as the Hungarian-born photographer, writer and filmmaker Gyula Halász, known to the world as Brassaï. Through his gorgeous black-and-white portraits of Parisians in cafes, gardens and dance halls, Brassaï defined, and continues to define, an ideal of the City of Light that has lasted for generations. Countless people around the globe — when they think of the Paris of the 1930s and 1940s — envision the great, ancient city as Brassaï captured it through his artful lens.
On the Eiffel Tower’s 125th birthday — the grand emblem of the French capital opened on March 31, 1889 — LIFE.com presents a handful of pictures from a wonderful new book, Brassaï: For the Love of Paris (Flammarion).
As the mayor of Paris, Bertrand Delanoë writes in his foreword to the book: “My heartfelt wish is that those who view these photographs lose themselves for a time in a Paris of chance encounters, made more loving, more alive than ever by Brassaï’s inquiring eye.”
We couldn’t have said it better ourselves.