Henri Cartier-Bresson




Henri Cartier-Bresson


French, 1908-2004

Henri Cartier-Bresson

Henri Cartier-Bresson has described himself as a photojournalist, a label doubtless no more misleading than any other available.
To put the identification in a fuller perspective, it might be added that he is probably the only photojournalist to have studied painting with Andre Lhote, the chief academician of Cubism, and also that relatively few of his pictures are concerned with journalistic events in the traditional sense.



Henri Cartier-Bresson

It is also true that many of his finest pictures have been made not on assignment, but out of an amateur's fascination with the world about him; but this is of course true of most important photographers.
A photographer's best work is, alas, generally done for himself.

Without minimizing the value of his work as reportage, it must be said that Cartier-Bresson's photographs are revered by other photographers because they are beautiful.


Henri Cartier-Bresson

They possess grace, balance, surprise, economy, tension, and visual wit: the qualities of a good gymnast or dancer. Or the qualities of a good picture.

This is not to suggest that Cartier-Bresson's pictures are abstractions.
They spring from a response to specific life; their formal eloquence is a tribute to their human meaning.


Henri Cartier-Bresson

If they were less they would be, to Cartier-Bresson, solutions without problems. The photograph opposite concerns gesture, line, shape, scale, the flatness of the picture plane, and the difference between art and life.
To say that the picture concerns these things does not, of course, mean that it explains them.

from "Looking at Photographs" by John Szarkowski






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Henri Cartier-Bresson / recommended books
Henri Cartier-Bresson: Photographer

From the cities of war-torn Europe to the rural landscape of the American South, this retrospective volume shows the lifework of a legendary photographer. 155 duotone illustrations.



Henri Cartier-Bresson: A Propos de Paris

Cartier-Bresson was the master of the "decisive moment," that fleeting instant for which a picture really is worth a thousand words, which is the essence of photojournalism. In no place is this more exemplified than in his images of Paris.



Henri Cartier-Bresson: The Modern Century

Published to accompany an exhibition at The Museum of Modern Art, this is the first major publication to make full use of the extensive holdings of the Fondation Cartier-Bresson-including thousands of prints and a vast resource of documents relating to the photographer's life and work. The heart of the book surveys Cartier-Bresson's career through 300 photographs divided into 12 chapters.


Henri Cartier-Bresson: The Biography

An intensely private individual, Cartier-Bresson confided in his close friend Pierre Assouline over a number of years, even opening up his archives to him. Here, for the first time, we read about his youthful devotion to surrealism; his unending passion for drawing; the war and the prison camps; the friends and the women in his life. Assouline provides an acute and perceptive account of the life and philosophy of this icon of our times, and gives us an opportunity to reassess his contribution to twentieth-century photography and reportage. 23 illustrations.


Henri Cartier-Bresson quotes
  • The photograph itself doesn't interest me. I want only to capture a minute part of reality.


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