François Szalay Colos
By one account, François Szalay Colos (Ferencz Szalay) was a brilliant, opinionated and somewhat secretive man who intuitively presented an “edited version of himself” to each person he met. This may have been a self-protecting instinct arising from his experiences in his native Hungary during the period of Communist repression of the 1950s. As a young man, Colos spent several years in the Communist Gulag system, forced to work in coal mines— the details of his “crime” are unknown. Upon his release in 1957 he escaped to Paris, where he continued the art studies he began in Budapest before his incarceration. In France, he adopted the professional name of François Colos and worked as an illustrator for books, magazines and advertising. During the early 1960s he began working in photography, film and television as well. While visting New York in 1966, Colos photographed the area around Times Square and 42nd Street with a 35 mm camera, focusing on display windows of retailers, smut shops and novelty stores, as well as show marquees, and lonely street corners in the area.
Colos moved to Manhattan in 1970 and lived the rest of his life there, working as a freelance illustrator for major publications like Time, Life, New York Times, Playboy and Newsweek. He was profiled in an article published in the graphic design magazine Print in 1987.