• gerard van weyenbergh

Cartier-Bresson, photograph extraordinaire, video of his work.

Photographer of the moment, thirsty for travel, Henri Cartier-Bresson (1908–2004) is often nicknamed "the eye of the century"! The photojournalist is known for shocking images and poetic, his participation in major political and social events of the XXth century portraits of writers and artists. Photographer of the Century, he was able to capture "decisive moments", "on the sly" according to his expression. Cartier-Bresson quickly showed remarkable sagacity in composing an image, in finding an angle of view that was always surprising. The banal is never ordinary, history never harmless.

He said

"The adventurer in me felt compelled to bear witness, with an instrument faster than a brush, to the scars of the world. "

His life

Born in Seine-et-Marne in 1908, Cartier-Bresson first considered becoming a painter. He is a pupil of the cubist André Lhote, who opened an academy in Montparnasse. Cartier-Bresson frequents the circle of surrealism, an aesthetic and political (communist) influence that guides his reading of the world and his vision of photojournalism. He abandons brushes and chooses photography.

In 1932, Henri Cartier-Bresson bought his first Leica , the historic case for photo reporters. He travels around the world: Ivory Coast, Mexico, United States. When he returned to Paris in 1936, he was assistant to Jean Renoir on two films, La Vie est à nous and Partie de Campagne . Cartier-Bresson becomes a documentary filmmaker by producing a powerful report on the Spanish Civil War. It also immortalizes the paid holidays, established in France by the Popular Front. His gaze, engaged, is oriented less towards the powerful than towards the people, their hopes, their miseries, their sufferings.

In 1940, the photographer joined a special army unit devoted to images. But he is taken prisoner. At the cost of several risky attempts, he manages to escape and attends the Liberation of Paris. He then engages politically in favor of the fate of prisoners and deportees of war.

It was during 1944 that the photographer produced a series of famous portraits: Picasso, Matisse, Bonnard… With an artistic, empathetic eye, he captured the atypical personality of the great painters and writers of his time. His works were exhibited at MoMa in New York in 1947. That year, he founded the Magnum agency with Robert Capa and several other reporters. Cartier-Bresson then turned to news reporting.

Between 1948 and 1950, Cartier-Bresson moved to Asia. In India, he photographs Gandhi's funeral, in China, the establishment of the communist regime, in Indonesia, independence. Life magazine distributes its images all over the world. In 1954, he was the first to publish photographs of the USSR at the end of the Cold War. Thereafter, he will continue to travel to cover world news for the media, returning to China, India and Mexico.

In the 1970s, Henri Cartier-Bresson gradually retired from the Magnum agency, while depositing his archives there. He wants to devote himself to a more personal and introspective work, thanks to the practice of drawing. In 2003, a foundation in his name was opened by his wife Martine Franck, also a photographer, in Paris. The photographer died the following year. Extraordinary video of his works: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WsNnJLv1pkk © Beaux Arts