of the best known and most revered photographers alive today,
Henri Cartier-Bresson has lived through an amazing period
in history. During 1948-50 alone he was in India for the death
of Gandhi, China for the last six months of the Kuomintang
and the first six months of the People’s Republic, and
in Indonesia for independence. He has managed without fail
to be in the right place at the right time, and his particular
method and perspective have resulted in a remarkable document
of twentieth century life and times.
is however just one facet of a photographic career spanning
over fifty years. Looking at the breadth and depth of his
work we ultimately find a self-portrait of the artist woven
through this extraordinary and uniquely observed portrait
of our time. Taken individually, each image has it's own story
to tell, a moment in time that offers, as Cartier-Bresson
has described it the possibility ñ through forgetting
yourself ñ of recording in a fraction of a second the
emotion of the subject, and the beauty of the form. In considering
Cartier-Bresson’s work it is impossible to ignore his
concept of "The decisive moment": form, line, texture,
tonality, contrast, and geometric composition carrying an
importance equal to, but also inextricable from, the content.
It is his mastery of this concept, this fraction of time unique
to photography, that which has helped to make him such a prominent
and pivotal figure in the history of the medium.
by the French as a national treasure, mentioned as a touchstone
in almost every article in the popular photographic press,
emulated by legions of photographers, Cartier-Bresson has
delighted and informed millions with his photographs"
Claude Cookman, Henri Cartier-Bresson The man, the image
& the world. A retrospective (Thames & Hudson,
Cartier-Bresson was born in France in 1908. He trained as
an artist before beginning his photographic career in the
early 1930ís, spending time on the Ivory Coast, in
Europe, Mexico & the USA. In 1940 he was captured by the
Nazis and spent three years in prisoner-of-war camps before
escaping to join the Paris resistance. From 1944-45 he took
a series of portraits of writers and artists for Editions
Braun, including Matisse, Braque, Bonnard, Claudel and Rouault.
In 1946 he spent over a year working in the USA on the so-called
"posthumous" exhibition of his work, proposed by
the Museum of Modern Art in New York when he was believed
to have died during the war.
1947 Cartier-Bresson founded the co-operative photographic
agency Magnum, along with Robert Capa, David Seymour (Chim)
, William Vandivert & George Rodger. Since then he has
traveled all over the world capturing not just news, but unique
moments in our history.
first book, Images à la sauvette, with a cover
by Matisse, was published in France in 1952 by Tèriade.
This was also published in New York with the alternative title
The Decisive Moment. 1954 marked the beginning of
a long collaboration with Robert Delpire with the publication
of Les Danses a Bali. In this year he was also the
first photographer to be allowed into the USSR during the
period of dètente.
1955 Tèriade published Les Europèens,
with a cover by Mirö, and in 1958-59 Cartier-Bresson
returned to China for three months for the tenth anniversary
of the People’s Republic of China.
Cartier-Bresson traveled in Mexico, Cuba, Japan and India.
It was in 1966 that he terminated his active working relationship
with Magnum Photos, although the agency distribution retains
continued to travel and photograph until 1975 when he decided
to concentrate on drawing. Exhibitions of his photographic
work have maintained his presence in galleries & museums
worldwide, and he has been celebrated with awards and prizes
and numerous birthday celebrations. In 2000 he made plans
with his wife Martine Franck & daughter Mèlanie,
to set up the Fondation Cartier-Bresson, to provide a permanent
home for his collected works as well as an exhibition space
open to the other artists. The foundation won state-approved
status in 2001, and was opened in the spring of 2003.
passed away on July 3rd 2004, aged 95.
photographs of Henri Cartier-Bresson were first exhibited
at the Julien Levy Gallery, New York, in 1933. His first museum
show was at the Museum of Modern Art New York, in 1947. Since
then he has been continually exhibited in major galleries,
museums and institutions around the world. This spring saw
the long-awaited opening of the Henri Cartier-Bresson Foundation,
alongside De qui síagit-il? Henri Cartier-Bresson,
a retrospective exhibition at the Biblioteque Nationale. Located
in the Montparnasse district of Paris, the foundation will
house the Cartier-Bresson archive and bring to the public
conferences and exhibitions about photographers and other
talented individuals from his sphere of influence.
find out more about Henri Cartier-Bresson we have listed below
a small selection of books that we recommend, from the key
early ones to those that have been published most recently.
If you are searching for an out-of-print title we will be
happy to source it for you.
Henri Carter-Bresson: the man, the image & the world.
A retrospective (Thames & Hudson, UK)
2001 Landscape/townscape (Thames & Hudson, UK)
1998 Tète à Tète (Thames &
1997 Europeans (Thames & Hudson, UK)
1995 Henri Cartier-Bresson & the Artless Art
(Thames & Hudson, UK)
1994 A Propos de Paris (Thames & Hudson, UK)
1991 America in Passing (Thames & Hudson, UK)
1979 Henri Cartier-Bresson: Photographer (Thames
& Hudson, UK)
1963 Photographies de Henri Cartier-Bresson (Text
by Henri Cartier-Bresson. Delpire Editeur) UK edition: Jonathan
Cape. US edition: Grossman
1955 Les Europèens (Devised and published
by Tèriade. Text by Henri Cartier-Bresson) The
Europeans (Simon & Schuster, New York)
1952 Images à la Sauvette (Devised
and published by Tèriade. Text by Henri Cartier-Bresson)
The Decisive Moment (Simon & Schuster, New York)
you enjoy the work of this artist, you should also look at
the work of fellow Magnum members Elliott
Erwitt & Marc
Riboud, along with his countryman and peer, Willy
You can also see our new gallery of work by Henri's wife,
renowned photo-journalist Martine
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2003 Hackelbury Fine Art, Ltd. Copyright for all images is
held by the respective artist or estate and they may not be
reproduced in any form without express premission. All rights