Cartier-Bresson is well known for his concept of the “decisive moment” in photography. He defined this moment as “the simultaneous recognition, in a fraction of a second, of the significance of an event as well as of a precise organization of forms which gave that event its proper expression." His famous photograph of a man jumping over a puddle ("Behind the Gare Saint-Lazare, 1932") illustrates this concept perfectly.
During his photographic career Cartier-Bresson photographed all over the world - Mexico, Canada, USA, Europe, India, Burma, Pakistan, Indonesia, Africa, Burma, China, Japan, Cuba, and the USSR, among other places. He also photographed many famous personalities and artists of the 20th century, including Matisse, Picasso, Coco Chanel, Truman Capote, and Gandhi. His interest in the visual arts also extended to film - he made films with Jean Renoir, Jacques Becker and André Zvoboda and a documentary on Republican Spain (1937).
During the Second World War Cartier-Bresson was taken prisoner by the Germans and escaped, then photographed the occupation and liberation of France. During this time rumors reached the USA that he had been killed, and the Museum of Modern Art began to prepare a “posthumous” show. Cartier-Bresson later spent a year in the US helping to prepare this show.
1947 Cartier-Bresson co-founded the photographic cooperative Magnum
along with fellow photographers Robert Capa, George Rodger, David Seymour,
Bill Vandivert and others.
Cartier-Bresson retired from photography in the early 1970s to return to drawing and painting. Although no longer taking photos, his influence on photographers and the photographic world was solidified. The Henri Cartier-Bresson Foundation was created by Cartier-Bresson and his wife and daughter in 2002 to preserve and share his legacy.
Henri Cartier-Bresson died on August 3rd, 2004 in Paris. He is survived by his wife and fellow photographer Martine Franck, and his daughter Melanie.
by Henri Cartier-Bresson
Cartier-Bresson in India
by Yves Véquaud
by Line, Henri Cartier-Bresson's Drawings
America in Passing
propos de Paris
Mexican Notebooks 1934-1964
Cartier-Bresson and the Artless Art
to Cartier-Bresson's work:
Henri Cartier-Bresson Foundation
Howard Greenberg Gallery
National Portrait Gallery
Galerie Esther Woerdehoff
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