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Henri Cartier-Bresson: The Man, the Image & the World: A Retrospective Hardcover – April, 2003

4.7 out of 5 stars 26 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Henri Cartier-Bresson spent four decades traveling the world as a photojournalist in search of what he called "the decisive moment"--the instant when visual harmony and human significance coalesce. Published in honor of his 95th birthday, Henri Cartier-Bresson: The Man, The Image & The World is a handsome volume that reproduces more than 600 photographs, film stills, and drawings and includes essays by art, photography, and film experts. Trained as a painter in his native France, Cartier-Bresson began his photography career during a trip to the Ivory Coast in 1931. After shooting his way through Europe, Mexico and the U.S., he became an assistant to filmmaker Jean Renoir and directed documentaries in support of the Spanish Civil War. Imprisoned by the Germans during World War II, he escaped to document the liberation of Paris. More than a quarter-century of magazine photography followed—-including vivid glimpses of modern life in India, China and the Soviet Union—-before he put aside his camera in favor of his sketchbook. Cartier-Bresson's ability to capture peak moments resulted in unforgettable single photographs, like that of a woman in a group of former concentration camp prisoners who suddenly recognizes her Gestapo informer and reaches out to hit her. His constant watchfulness led to images that capture fleeting emotion—-lust, pride, despair, expectation, glee—-on the faces of people going about their daily lives in grim cities, sleepy villages, and vast landscapes. Shaped by compassion and a self-effacing absence of personal judgment, these photographs reflect a worldview no longer fashionable but forever relevant to human understanding. —Cathy Curtis

From Publishers Weekly

Cartier-Bresson's photos of everyday scenes were apparently bothersome to an audience accustomed to the abstract work of Steiglitz and Strand. But his snapshots were a new and powerful way of documenting the world: an astrologer in 1947 Bombay; a 1967 control room at Cape Kennedy, Fla.; a 1954 "sports gala" in Moscow. He "improvised, incorporating the effects of chance and accident as he went along," writes Philippe Arba‹zar of the BibliothŠque Nationale de France in an essay called "The Public Eye: Shows and Exhibitions." Saul Steinberg even made him a fake diploma authorizing Cartier-Bresson to become a photographer, as if his work needed legitimacy. With quotes from MoliŠre, Virgil, Verlaine ("Memory, memory, what do you want of me?") punctuating the chapters, and more than 600 of Cartier-Bresson's photographs and even drawings, films and books, this is indeed a comprehensive and stunning retrospective, carefully printed and showing the huge oeuvre's variations. Complemented by essays by Peter Galassi of MoMA and Serge Toubiana of Cahiers du Cin‚ma, among others, the book coincides with the opening of the Henri Cartier-Bresson Foundation in Paris, as well as the photographer's 95th birthday.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 432 pages
  • Publisher: Thames & Hudson; Reissue edition (April 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0500542678
  • ISBN-13: 978-0500542675
  • Product Dimensions: 10.5 x 11.5 x 1.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 6.8 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (26 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,159,838 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
"Henri Cartier-Bresson: The Man, the Image and the World: A Retrospective by Peter Galassi, Robert Delpire" is an essential purchase for anyone with more than a passing interest in photography.
As the images and essays in this retrospective of HCB's work make clear, Cartier-Bresson invented 35 mm photography as a visual form. What studying, or even browsing through this massive collection makes clear is that despite being known as a "photographer," Cartier-Bresson is not being disengeuous when he eschews that descriptive: he is not a photographer; he is an artist whose primary tool for about 50 years was a camera. But he wasn't "taking pictures," he was creating art, and happened to use a camera to do it.
A careful examination of this collection of images leaves one with the impression is that the reason HCB has had such an enormous impact on the history of photography in many different forms - including "street photography," "photojournalism," and "documentary photography," is the fact that he is one of the great artists of the 20th century.
Even if you think you know all Cartier-Bresson's work; even if you own all the books in which most of these photos originally appeared over the past 50 years, "Henri Cartier-Bresson: The Man, the Image and the World: A Retrospective" is a book worth owning because of the overview it provides, and because of the insightfulness of several of the essays included.
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Format: Hardcover
No words are needed for Cartier-Bresson. He is one of the foundations of modern photography.
As for the book, it has two very annoying problems.
1) Some of the best Cartier-Bresson pictures are printed across both pages nearly destroying the amazing composition of the pictures.
2) Some of other great pictures are printed in a 3x3 size, great for passport pictures but useless to the study of this great photographer.

The book has a very good compilation of the photographer's work, unfortunately it has these two issues which render the book above average but far-away from being GREAT!!!
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This title is in my opinion by far the best, most comprehensive single book on the works of Henri Cartier-Bresson ever published, or ever likely to be published. The selection of photographs is huge and they are printed superbly on very heavy fine art paper. The accompanying essays provide a very useful insight into Henri Cartier-Bresson's approach to photography, in particular into his concept of the "decisive moment". The sections on his life provide further substance to the book and raise it well above the level of a coffee table publication. My only (very slight) reservation is that because of the huge number of photographs included, not all could be printed at full-page size and several of my favourites are reproduced a little small. However, the title in its present form is already the heaviest in my collection by a considerable margin and to make it any thicker would have made it too difficult to manage. This title is great value for a fine art book of such quality - if you have any interest in HCB at all, get it!
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is a wonderful book. I can think of no better volume about the life work of a photographer that this one of Henri Cartier-Bresson. The book has 602 illustrations consisting of M. Bresson's photographs, his paintings and drawings and family photographs. The family photographs are among the most interesting since we have collected, in one volume, probably all of the photographs taken of the photographer (including an interesting seated portrait of M. Bresson as a prisoner of war). There are some excellent essays by the editors about the photographer and the formulation of the "decisive moment" and his work but the photographs are allowed to speak for themselves.

The photographs are placed in the order M. Bresson published them. Each section of photographs is preceded by a quote that has a bearing on the pictures and a small picture of the cover of the original book is included with the photographs. Each picture is simply captioned with the place or circumstance and the year it was taken. Many of the images are famous and there are also many discoveries that will enthrall the view. The photographs are reproduces in different sizes and some are smaller than I would like but the overwhelming majority are nicely laid out and grouped. There are excellent appendices that give publication information on M. Bresson's photographs and a timeline of his life.

In short, this is a marvelous book that anyone interested in photography must have. The comment by another reviewer concerning the size of the volume was no problem for me: my bookshelves can accommodate any size of book. But even if I had no space on my shelves, I would make room for this volume.
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Format: Hardcover
Henri Cartier-Bresson, a man who elevated photography to an art form, is known for successfully capturing "decisive," but elusive, moments on film - photographs taken at the instant when "visual harmony and human significance coalesce." His famous photograph of a man jumping over a puddle ("Behind the Gare Saint-Lazare, 1932") illustrates this concept perfectly. Perhaps Cartier-Bresson's unique gift for combining the plastic arts with the images he saw through the camera's lens was acquired through his early training as a painter in his native France.

A renowned photojournalist, he began his career in 1931 and purchased his first Leica in 1932. He was one of the first to shoot in the 35 mm format, and was an innovator of the "street photography" which was to influence generations of photographers. During his decades long career he worked all over the world and photographed such luminaries as Matisse, Picasso, Coco Chanel, Truman Capote, and Gandhi. His interest in the visual arts also extended to cinema - he made films with Jean Renoir, Jacques Becker and André Zvoboda and a documentary on Republican Spain (1937). In 1947 Cartier-Bresson co-founded the photographic cooperative Magnum along with fellow photographers Robert Capa, George Rodger, David Seymour and Bill Vandivert.

Cartier-Bresson retired from photography in 1973 to return to painting, and his first love, drawing. He once said in an interview, "Photography is a sketchbook. Drawing is meditation."

Henri Cartier-Bresson died on August 3, 2004 in Paris. He left behind a photographic record of the world, mid-20th century. He will probably be best remembered, however, as an artist who had tremendous insight into ordinary people and the extraordinary ability to capture fleeting emotion on their faces.
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