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.
With photographs that range from scenes of everyday life in Spain, France and Mexico to seminal images of world events, like the assassination of Gandhi in India, the inception of the Maoist People’s Republic in China or the strange coverage of King George IV’s coronation, the visitor is able to follow the genesis of Cartier-Bresson’s unique photographic style.
Undeniably one of the most influential photographers in history, Henri Cartier-Bresson famously wrote in a lengthy introduction to his book: “To me, photography is the simultaneous recognition, in a fraction of a second, of the significance of an event as well as of a precise organisation of forms which give that event its proper expression.” The exhibition presents a unique opportunity to discover (or re-discover) the importance of Cartier-Bresson’s work and his contribution to the world of photojournalism and street photography. At the same time, it is also a reminder for us to slow down, to witness and cherish the small moments of life just a little bit longer.
The exhibition Henri Cartier-Bresson: Images à la Sauvette (The Decisive Moment) is on view from January 11 to April 23, 2017, at Fondation Henri Cartier-Bresson, 2, impasse Lebouis, 75014 Paris.
January 11, 2017 to April 23, 2017
At Fondation Henri Cartier-Bresson
Henri Cartier-Bresson: Images à la Sauvette | The Decisive Moment
Fondation Henri Cartier-Bresson’s latest exhibition is dedicated to Henri Cartier-Bresson’s pathbreaking photography book, “Images à la Sauvette” (Images on the Run), or as its American edition is named “The Decisive Moment”. Highly recommended!
Fondation Henri Cartier-Bresson