The French photographer Henri Cartier Bresson, in this country known as HCB, had a long life full of revolutions.
Ten years after his death, the Centre Pompidou organizes an intense exhibition held at Galerie 2 until the 9 of June 2014, comprising of materials from the Henri Cartier Bresson Foundation.
The institution opened his archives to tell about one of the most well-known performers of the modern era, defined by his biographer Pierre Assouline “The eye of the Century”. In a pleasant afternoon of March we explored the history of HBC in all its details, like a long river composed of its numerous variations. We enjoyed a journey originated from the artistic sensibility of the young Henri and evolving through decades of recorded images. A reflection on the law of composition and “golden section”.
Here we found the soul of a young man with passion for his work that moves his first steps into the world of representation during the early 30’s, charmed by surrealist experiments.
As a politically oriented reporter, Cartier Bresson travelled far and wide, tracing the path of a vast human and professional circumnavigation that began in Africa, following the footsteps of Rimbaud and Cendrars, India and the Orient. Attracted by foreign cultures that he embraces by marrying the famous Balinese dancer Ratna Mohini, better known as Eli.
His camera was able to narrate the horrors of war with a geometric language and helped the photographer in him focus on society. He built a long and successful career in the Agency Magnum Photos that he co-founded in 1947 with famous colleagues Robert Capa, David Seymour, Vandivert William and George Rodger. Thanks to Magnum, HCB had the incredible opportunity to portray Mahatma Gandhi a few hours before his assassination and to document his funeral and the emotional wave that submerged an entire nation.
His photos recorded the major changes in French Society during the twentieth century, from the democratization of leisure with the introduction in 1922 of the two weeks paid vacation, described through a joyful and pictorial language.
Cartier Bresson did not write a lot, so his rare words are even more valuable. “The decisive moment” can be considered his most renowned concept and also the main theoretical description of his work exhibited in the preface of his first album “Images à la sauvette” (composed by original lithographic boards with titles and decoration of Matisse, 1952).
“I discovered the Leika that has become an extension of my eye and then I can’t separate from it. I walked all day with the spirit alert, concentrating to catch the live pictures in the street , as crimes caught up in the exact moment in which they happened. My main objective was to capture in a single image the essence of the scene unfolding before my eyes”.
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