In October 1952, late French photographer Henri Cartier-Bresson released Images à la Sauvette (Images on the Run), a book containing 126 photographs taken by him between 1932 and 1952. The American edition of the book, published simultaneously, was titled The Decisive Moment – an expression that, over the years, became indelibly attached to Henri Cartier-Bresson and his photography.
The Decisive Moment
At a time when books were largely reserved for classical arts and literature, Cartier-Bresson’s book was indeed path-breaking in almost all aspects. Its unique focus on photographs as opposed to text, its remarkable heliogravure printing coupled with an unconventional layout and sequencing and a non-photographic collage cover designed by Henri Matisse, soon established Cartier-Bresson as one of the most important photographers of his time. His photographs stood testament to some of the greatest political upheavals of the twenty years that preceded the book’s publication, and the book itself became a ‘bible’ for generations of photographers.
Henri Cartier-Bresson’s exhibition in Paris
A new exhibition at Fondation Henri Cartier-Bresson, Paris, retraces the history and coming into being of this legendary book with an elegant selection of vintage photo prints and archival documents. Appropriately named ‘Images à la sauvette’ after Cartier-Bresson’s book, the exhibition also follows the book’s chronological and conceptual sequencing and is divided into two sections, each of which hinges upon the year 1947 when Cartier-Bresson co-founded Magnum Foundation. The first section features some of the earliest photographs made by Cartier-Bresson in the western world between the years 1932 and 1947, while the second follows his coverage of some of the most influential events post 1947 in the east.
Fondation Henri Cartier-Bresson