Henri Cartier-Bresson

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Henri Cartier-Bresson
BirthplaceChanteloup-en-Brie, France
Photographer and Painter

Cartier-Bresson, Henri

(äNrē` kärtēā`-brĕsôN`), 1908–2004, French photojournalist, b. Chanteloup, near Paris. Cartier-Bresson is renowned for his countless memorable images of 20th-century individuals and events. After studying painting and being influenced by surrealismsurrealism
, literary and art movement influenced by Freudianism and dedicated to the expression of imagination as revealed in dreams, free of the conscious control of reason and free of convention.
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, he began (1931) a career in photography. Achieved with the simplest of techniques, his works are remarkable for their flawless composition, for their capture of what has been called "the decisive moment" in a situation, and for the sense they convey of the rush of time arrested. His photographs, characteristically taken with a 35-mm camera, are uncropped and unmanipulated. Cartier-Bresson witnessed and photographed many of his era's most historic events, from the Spanish Civil War, to the partition of India, the Chinese revolution, and France's 1968 student rebellion. He made numerous photographs of the German occupation of France and in 1944, after escaping from a Nazi prison camp, organized underground photography units. He was the author of many photographic books including The Decisive Moment (1952), People of Moscow (1955), China in Transition (1956), The World of Henri Cartier-Bresson (1968), The Face of Asia (1972), About Russia (1974), and the retrospective Henri Cartier-Bresson: Photographer (1992). A founder (1947) of the Magnum photo agency, he virtually retired from photography in the early 1970s and thenceforth largely devoted himself to drawing.


See his The Mind's Eye: Writings on Photography and Photographers (1999); biography by P. Assouline (2001, tr. 2005); F. Nourissier, Cartier-Bresson's France (tr. 1971); P. Galassi, Henri Cartier-Bresson: The Early Work (1987); J.-P. Montier, Henri Cartier Bresson and the Artless Art (1996); P. Arbaizer et al., Henri Cartier-Bresson (2003); C. Chéroux, Henri Cartier-Bresson: Here and Now (2014).

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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Cartier-Bresson, Henri


Born Aug. 22, 1908, in Chan-teloup, Ile-de-France. Major French photographer.

Cartier-Bresson studied painting under A. Lhote (1929) and turned to photography in 1931. He is one of the founders of Magnum Photos (1947), the international agency of photojournalists. Using a Leica with a standard 50-mm lens, Cartier-Bresson avoids complex and cumbersome technical equipment. He depicts the familiar events of the world around him and the manners and customs of people of different lands. The seeming simplicity of his images is combined with humanistic pathos and social criticism.

Cartier-Bresson’s antifascist position first appeared in photographs taken in the late 1930’s in Spain; he was also a member of the French Resistance. Many of his photographs have an antiwar cast. Cartier-Bresson traveled throughout Europe, America, and Asia in the late 1940’s and 1950’s. His travels in the USSR resulted in the collection The People of Moscow (1957). Vive La France! was published in 1971.


Photographies de Henri Cartier-Bresson. Paris, 1963.
The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
References in periodicals archive ?
"One of my favourite photographers, Henri Cartier-Bresson, was right when he said: 'Your first 10,000 photographs are your worst'."
Its lineage can be traced directly back to the work of photographers he most admires: Henri Cartier-Bresson, Brassa, Walker Evans and Robert Frank.
In the mid-20th century, photographers such as Garry Winogrand, Harry Callahan, Lee Friedlander, and Helen Levitt captured the vitality of the modern city and helped define the genre of "street photography." Until this day, one of the guiding tenets of the genre was the "decisive moment." Coined by the famous French photographer Henri Cartier-Bresson, the decisive moment was the rare, but fortuitous, convergence of human drama and compositional elegance that could occur within a photograph in the hands of a skilled and tenacious photographer.
The second, offered the day before, presents 100 photographic prints from the Henri Cartier-Bresson Foundation.
Intended to demystify the manuals that often accompany digital cameras, the book does not venture into the origins or more technical aspects of the field, though occasional brief quotes and mentions of renowned photographers Henri Cartier-Bresson, Dorothea Lange, Aaron Siskind, and others add a dash of historical intrigue.
Master-photographers like Henri Cartier-Bresson may have made a point of never cropping their pictures, but for mere mortals a trim here, a crop there can make a huge difference.
Henri Cartier-Bresson (1908-2004) is a legendary figure in photography, well known for his ability to capture the "decisive moment" through the lens of his Leica 35 mm camera.
An inner silence; the portraits of Henri Cartier-Bresson. (reprint, 2006)
In discussions of street photography, Henri Cartier-Bresson is impossible to avoid, although it feels cynical indeed to associate the "decisive moment" with a machine that doesn't look, but merely eats up and spits back that which passes in front of its many lenses.
Andre Kertesz By Michael Frizot and Annie-Laure Wanaverbecq (Yale: pounds 48) Is a truly sumptuous homage to the man who the photographer Henri Cartier-Bresson considered one of his masters.