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Summary Article: Cartier-Bresson, Henri
From The Columbia Encyclopedia

(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 surrealism, 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);.
  • Nourissier, F. , Cartier-Bresson's France (tr. 1971);.
  • Galassi, P. , Henri Cartier-Bresson: The Early Work (1987);.
  • Montier, J.-P. , Henri Cartier Bresson and the Artless Art (1996);.
  • Arbaizer, P. et al., Henri Cartier-Bresson (2003);.
  • Chéroux, C. , Henri Cartier-Bresson: Here and Now (2014).
The Columbia Encyclopedia, © Columbia University Press 2018

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