Henri Cartier-Bresson: The Man, The Image and the World by Peter Galassi, Robert Delpire et al - review by Patrick O'Connor

Patrick O'Connor

A King of Infinite Space

Henri Cartier-Bresson: The Man, The Image and the World


Thames & Hudson 432pp £48 order from our bookshop

IN THE PRESS release that accompanies this magnificent tome, there is a curious statement. It reads, 'Henri Cartier- Bresson trained as an artist before embarking on a career in photography.' So what's the dititerence? Do we still not count photography as an art, or does it in some way enhance the reputation even of someone as celebrated as Cartier-Bresson to know that he A at first set out to be a painter? The final section of the book includes reproductions of some A of his drawings from the last twenty-five years or so, since he retired from active duty as a photographer. An early canvas, My Landlady and Her Husband, painted in Cambridge in 1927, already hints at the style that would become associated with Cartier-Bresson the photojournahst. The couple stand rigidly behind a garden chair, staring at the artist with a mixture of apprehension and hostility. He seems to have captured them in a snapshot, rather l than built up a character study fiom a series of sitting.

The book coincides with the opening of the Cartier-Bresson Foundation in Paris, and an exhibition at the Biblioth2que Nationale. The photographs are arranged in untitled groups, works from different periods being Cartier-Bresson juxtaposed, sometimes to make a point about time or place, sometimes to suggest the itinerant nature of the reporter's life. Cartier-Bresson was twenty- four when his photographs started to appear

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