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Photographing America: Henri Cartier-Bresson / Walker Evans [Hardcover]

by Agnès Sire
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)

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Book Description

July 31, 2009 0500543704 978-0500543702

Walker Evans (1903-1975) and Henri Cartier-Bresson (1908-2004) belonged to the same generation and shared an insatiable intellectual curiosity.

This book draws a parallel between the photographs on America made by Evans and Cartier-Bresson in the period from 1928 to 1948. Evans was well-established, had already published Let Us Now Praise Famous Men with James Agee, and was at work on Many Are Called. Cartier-Bresson, on the other hand, was just beginning his new career as a photographer. Although they both approached their work as a form of social criticism, imbued with references to literature and painting, their practices were always quite distinct. 120 color photographs

Editorial Reviews


“A gem that lets the photography do the talking. Highly recommended.” (Choice)

Vintage black and white images pack a powerful survey of the perspectives and approaches of both in a collection highly recommended for any college-level art library strong in American image history and analysis.

” (Midwest Book Review)

“Two of history’s greatest shutterbugs documented citizens during some of the country’s leanest years- from the Great Depression to the end of WWII- producing haunting portraits of Dust Bowl austerity and postwar uncertainty.” (Entertainment Weekly)

“By looking at images made in the United States by both photographers from 1928-1948, with Evans at the height of his career and Cartier-Bresson just beginning his, one gets a unique perspective on the differing sensibilities of these two 20th Century giants.” (

“This intriguing new book offers a fascinating opportunity to compare and contrast the work of the two photographic masters between 1929 and 1947.” (France)

“This will appeal not only to all photographers, from amateurs to artists, but also to anyone interested in the history of photography and American social and cultural history. Highly recommended.” (Library Journal)

About the Author

Agnès Sire is the Director of the Fondation Henri Cartier-Bresson.

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 180 pages
  • Publisher: Thames & Hudson (July 31, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0500543704
  • ISBN-13: 978-0500543702
  • Product Dimensions: 9.6 x 8.2 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.9 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #953,047 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.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
20 of 22 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Two men who captured forever the human condition November 19, 2009
The argument over whether photography is art has raged since the first primitive photographs were made and will probably continue until the moment our Sun winks out and the planet grows forever cold. But long before then I hope a package is launched into space containing among other things the photographs of Walker Evans and Henri Cartier-Bresson. These two men, along with a few others from the golden age of photojournalism, more than any others captured the essence of humankind in the last two-thirds of the 20th Century.

This book documents a collection of photos taken in the United States by the two masters. There are 120 photos in the main body of the work and every one is glorious.

The introduction is by Agnes Sire, who has done some other Cartier-Bresson books. Unlike many art writers, she is not above the ordinary Joe and her piece is an excellent introduction to both Evans and Cartier-Bresson, the latter's trip to New York and the intersecting paths of their work. There is a second essay by Jean-Francois Chevrier which I found dull, filled with insider artiste clichés and one step removed from idle chatter.

The Sire article is more than enough to acquaint the reader with Cartier-Bresson and Evans if they aren't already familiar with them.

The real beauty of the book is the collection of photographs. Evans amassed a huge body of work over his decades as a working photographer. Cartier-Bresson spent only a relatively little time in the United States. Both photographers were incredibly skilled in capturing the ineffable human. In Cartier-Bresson's case, his skill with his ever-present Leica gave rise to the concept of the "decisive moment", capturing a slice of time that perfectly represented some aspect of the human condition.
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5 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A fantastic comparison October 15, 2009
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
This is a fantastic collection of well-known and lesser-known photographs by Cartier-Bresson and Evans. The workmanship is fantastic. I would highly recommend this to any admirer of Cartier-Bresson, Evans, pre-war America in photographs, Farm Security Administration (type) photographs, or those interested in a comparison of two masters of second-quarter 20th century photographs.
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4 of 8 people found the following review helpful
Henri Cartier-Bresson's WALKER EVANS PHOTOGRAPHING AMERICA 1929-1947 is edited by Agnes Sire and includes an essay by Jean-Francois Chevrier, and uses a parallel between the work about America made by Evans and Cartier-Bresson from 1929-1947. Evans defined his work as a documentary, whereas Cartier-Bresson believed he was embracing new paths as a stills photographer. Vintage black and white images pack a powerful survey of the perspectives and approaches of both in a collection highly recommended for any college-level art library strong in American image history and analysis.
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