Fine Art Tuesday


Martines Legs, Henri Cartier-Bresson, 1968

(As suggested by Jed. Thanks for bailing me out, man.)

Henri Cartier-Bresson (1908-2004), was a French photographer, son of a wealthy textile manufacturer and a family of cotton merchants and Normandy landowners. The family money supported him in his early study of photography and drawing. He also studied painting under an uncle. Those lessons ended when the uncle dies in WW I.

According to the Museum of Modern Art, “Henri Cartier-Bresson (1908–2004) is one of the most original, accomplished, influential, and beloved figures in the history of photography. His inventive work of the early 1930s helped define the creative potential of modern photography, and his uncanny ability to capture life on the run made his work synonymous with “the decisive moment”—the title of his first major book. After World War II (most of which he spent as a prisoner of war) and his first museum show (at MoMA in 1947), he joined Robert Capa and others in founding the Magnum photo agency, which enabled photojournalists to reach a broad audience through magazines such as Life while retaining control over their work. In the decade following the war, Cartier-Bresson produced major bodies of photographic reportage on India and Indonesia at the time of independence, China during the revolution, the Soviet Union after Stalin’s death, the United States during the postwar boom, and Europe as its old cultures confronted modern realities. For more than 25 years, he was the keenest observer of the global theater of human affairs—and one of the great portraitists of the 20th century.”

His service in WW II is interesting. Captured in 1940, he was in forced labor camps until he escaped and made his way back to France. There he served in the French Resistance aiding other escapees and photographically documenting Resistance activities. 

He photographed without a flash and using black and white film. Having done both, with undistinguished results, he has my admiration.

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