Lily Ohm - Henri Cartier-Besson Research
1. The artist that I chose is a photographer named Henri Cartier-Bresson. He was born in 1908, in Normandy, France. After taking many drawing and painting courses in Paris Cartier-Bresson began taking photographs. Cartier-Bresson was interested in the motion of everyday movements and worked to successfully capture this motion in his photographs. He has published over 30 books and appeared in many exhibits all around the world, his first in 1933 in New York.
2. This motion that Cartier-Bresson captured was interesting to him because it could make the most mundane actions or gestures beautiful and of great importance. They could also convey an array of emotions, depending on the way Cartier-Bresson composed each photograph. He was a master of capturing â€śthe decisive moment.â€? He knew exactly how to compose the image and when to snap the shot. He was driven by wanting to capture the motions of everyday life, and always wanted to reveal something in his pictures that would normally be lost because it was mundane. He draws the viewerâ€™s attention to things that one would not normally notice, and as a result, the viewer sees objects or people in a completely new way. This reminds me a little of how Chris Ofili used elephant poop in his artwork. Normally, poop is not something that people would consider beautiful, just as people would not consider everyday gestures and motion particularily beautiful or eye-catching. Both artists, although in very different ways, took everyday things and portrayed them in a new way. Ofiliâ€™s may have been much more controversial, yet, I think they both had the same goal in mind.
3. Another one of Cartier-Bressonâ€™s goals was to capture the essence of his subjectsâ€™ beings. His portraits are very personal and, because of this, the viewer is able to interact with the photograph free of restrictions. The viewer can feel a connection with the subject because of the way that Cartier-Bresson displays the subjects as themselves. I think that the intimate nature of Cartier-Bressonâ€™s portraits could be compared with Nan Goldinâ€™s photographs. Both photographers work hard to display the true side of their subject. While Cartier-Bresson took these photos with the intent of them being more than a snapshot for himself, they are like Nan Goldinâ€™s because of this. Neither photographer creates a false representation of their subject while they are photographing. Goldinâ€™s photos are much more snapshot-like, and she only photographs people she actually knows on an intimate level. Cartier-Bresson, in comparison, often shot celebrities and people he didnâ€™t know as intimately, perhaps making his job more complex and difficult. However, both photographers do capture the essence of their subjectsâ€™ being. A difference in the photos of these two artists is actually the final product. Nan Goldinâ€™s photos often look as if they were made with a cheap or disposable camera. The lighting is often poor and they look like she was taking them for her personal collection, not to be art (she did indeed take some of the photos with no intent of them being displayed). This adds to the character of them, and makes them feel like real life. Cartier-Bressonâ€™s photos are all well developed and professional in appearance. His are all also black and white photos, while Goldinâ€™s work is in color.
4. I would most definitely recommend that people look at the work of Cartier-Bresson. His portraits are extremely captivating and there is a lot of viewer interaction because of the way Cartier-Bresson composes the image. One of my favorite pictures of his that I saw was called â€śPlace de l'Europe. Gare Saint Lazare.â€? This is an example of Cartier-Bressonâ€™s ability to capture â€śthe decisive moment.â€? His timing was perfect in capturing the man right before his foot breaks the surface of the water. If it had been taken a split second later the picture wouldnâ€™t be successful. Cartier-Bressonâ€™s timing when taking his pictures is incredible and I think that everyone should take the time to appreciate his amazing photographs.
Magnum Photos. Henri Cartier-Bresson.
(This is a great site that lists the books that Cartier-Bresson has published and it has a great slide show of some of his most famous photos, all of which are intriguing and beautiful).
Banville, John. â€śThe leica leonardo Photography Henri Cartier Bresson always wanted to be a painter. His debt to the Renaissance shines through his finest work, says the novelist John Banville.â€? The Sunday Telegraph. Nov 26, 2006.
(This article from LexisNexis Academic talks about Cartier-Bressonâ€™s ability to
capture the decisive moment, along with a lot of very interesting background about him and his first exhibition).
Henri Cartier-Bresson's Photographs: