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Henri Cartier-Bresson: The Mind's Eye Hardcover – June 15, 2005

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Editorial Reviews

From Library Journal

Supremely accomplished and influential French photographer Cartier-Bresson guided the evolution of the photographic medium while creating an enormous body of work. His photographs of people, famous and obscure, always contain a strong psychological component deriving from formally perfect compositions and a temporal ambivalence that characterizes only the most powerful static images. This slight book contains short essays by Cartier-Bresson along with some less interesting aesthetic epigrams and tributes to fellow artists. This is the first published collection of his writings, though large chunks are taken from books he published in the 1950s and 1960s. And while there's not a great deal of his writings to be collected, what's here is pithy and laconic without being sententious. His artistic philosophy is well captured by his landmark 1952 essay "The Decisive Moment," contained here, probably the most poetically instructive evocation of the field photographer's art yet written. This is a useful and important title from one of the defining sets of eyes in the cumulative visual record of the 20th century. Recommended for academic and large public libraries.DDouglas F. Smith, Oakland P.L., CA
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc.

About the Author

Henri Cartier-Bresson studied painting and literature until 1930, when he began his work in photography. His other books include The Decisive Moment and The Drawings of Henri Cartier-Bresson. He lives in Paris.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 112 pages
  • Publisher: Aperture; 1st edition (June 15, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0893818755
  • ISBN-13: 978-0893818753
  • Product Dimensions: 0.8 x 5.8 x 8.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (37 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #54,995 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Henri Cartier-Bresson (August 22, 1908 - August 3, 2004) is perhaps the greatest photographer of the twentieth century. In a career spanning over sixty years, he has used his camera as an impassive and neutral third eye to capture the vagaries of human behaviour and to produce some of the most memorable and compelling photographs ever published.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

65 of 68 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on January 13, 2000
Format: Hardcover
This is the nicest book I've ever read on photography. Bresson explains his art in a very comprehensive way and invites us to think about the photography. He also reminds us one thing that we are usually keen to forget about it: The photograph is nothing without it's content; The content must be the reflection of our life.. It was a real pleasure for me to read this great master's well filtered thoughts (over 90 years!)on photography. For those who think photograph really does matters
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38 of 38 people found the following review helpful By Russ Lewis on February 15, 2008
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Yes, this is a small book, and, possibly too much of it is taken up in verbal bouquets tossed to old friends, tourist information about side-trips to various countries, and practical advice to would-be photojournalists.

But those asides aren't the guts of this wonderful book. The important message from this man, who without question was the most influential photographer of the twentieth century, is that if you want to make good photographs you need to look, and you need to internalize a kind of respect for subject, context and geometry that allows you to SEE when you look, without resorting to arbitrary crutches like the "rule of thirds."

Probably the most important words in the book are these: "To take photographs means to recognize -- simultaneously and within a fraction of a second -- both the fact itself and the rigorous organization of visually perceived forms that give it meaning."

That's what the book is really about. Anyone who hopes to become a competent photographer needs to internalize that message.
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61 of 76 people found the following review helpful By Adrian Tyler on May 15, 2000
Format: Hardcover
This book is certainly looks interesting for anybody wanting to learn a bit more about the art and thinking of Cartier-Bresson, and indeed it is beautifully designed and produced. Unfortunatly the the little scraps of information that it contains seem as if they have been published just beacause they have indeed come from the great masters mouth. I mean its all kind of throw away stuff obviously never intended to be published with perhaps a couple of interesting paragraphs -but you probably knew those ones anyway-. So if you really want to study his work get "the artless art" if you want to learn from his experience, look at his pictures, you won't get much from this one.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Uday Khambadkone on December 18, 2003
Format: Hardcover
I got HCB's book from the library this week and couldn't stop reading it since I started.
Mind you this book has its pluses and minuses:
Pluses:
It is gives good insight in HCB's style of thinking and in general photography in his own words. He talks about his little experiences in China, Cuba, Russia and also about his friends.
Minuses:
The book is very brief and u yearn for more of his stories and experience. It has very less photographs, so if you are looking for that you might get disappointed.
With all that said, I would definitely recommend all of u Photography fans to read it at least once if your local library carries it.
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13 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Laura Beaverson on November 19, 2008
Format: Hardcover
The Mind's Eye: Writing on Photography and Photographers is a mildly interesting compilation of writings by Henri Cartier-Bresson. It's not really what I expected: the book is filled with short written pieces that do not seem to have been intended for publication. For the most part, it is a lot of musing and reads almost like a journal. Some of it is quite nice, such as Cartier-Bresson's discussion of photography and its formal elements. I'm not much of a photographer, but I find his thoughts on composition and process to be enlightening and helpful.

Utility is not the main focus of the book though, and it jumps from discussion of photography to Cartier-Bresson's world travels. The only striking travel entry is a story about Cuba, in which he meets Che Guevara and Fidel Castro. In comparison, the tales of Moscow and China are uneventful and do not carry the flash of historical insight that illuminates "Cuba."

The final section of The Mind's Eye is the least engaging: a few pages about several of Cartier-Bresson's famous photographer and artist friends. The content is thin throughout. Although he writes about unusual, talented individuals, none of the writing is compelling and instead feels a little drawn out. Cartier-Bresson puts it best in his words on Giacometti: "But enough: he's my friend."

I was disappointed that there is no discussion of Henri Cartier-Bresson's own work. I was hoping to read his thoughts on his photographs and maybe a little about his life. The closest this book gets to Cartier-Bresso'ns work is a handful of his photographs scattered throughout. It's unfair to say that there is something faulty with a person's thoughts, but as for the book itself, it simply isn't what it appears to be.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Enche Tjin on April 17, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Henri Cartier-Bresson, one of the founder of Magnum Photos rarely write, he rather shoot or sketch. That makes this book quite rare and significant. It compile Bresson writing in one book. Bresson discussed about his thought about photography especially photojournalism.

By reading this book, you get insight about what inside Bresson's mind on photography, philosophy and what he thinks about other artists. Part two of the book discuss about Bresson's travel to China, Cuba etc. It provides interesting insight on his journey.

However, this book is not technical how-to book, if you are looking for book that teach you how to take photo like Bresson, then you are looking for a wrong book. However, I think that the map/rules for Bresson's style can't be explained because it is basically no rules or map. But, you can get some valuable insights from this book and perhaps get a feel what Bresson is about.

Here are some interesting paragraphs that I quote right from the book:

"Subject does not consist of a collection of facts, for facts in themselves offer little interest. Through facts, however, we can reach an understanding of the laws that govern them, and be better able to select the essential ones which communicate reality."

"The camera is for us a tool, not a pretty mechanical toy. In the precise functioning of the mechanical object perhaps there is an unconscious compensation for the anxietes and uncertainties of daily endevor. In any case, people think far too much about technique and not enough about seeing."

"Complicated equipment and light reflectors and various other items of hardware are enough, to my mind, to prevent the birdie from coming out."
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