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An Inner Silence: The Portraits of Henri Cartier-Bresson Paperback – May 10, 2010
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From Publishers Weekly
Published to coincide with the first exhibition at the Fondation Henri Cartier-Bresson in Paris, this handsome collection spanning 70 years of image-making gathers 97 portraits by one of the defining photographers of the 20th century. Stripping away artifice from his subject, Cartier-Bresson could capture a personality with a click of his legendary Leica. The book collects portraits of world leaders, artists, celebrities and ordinary citizens, including many famous images—e.g., Sartre and Pouillon standing on Pont Des Arts—and a few iconic ones, like a young Truman Capote on a New Orleans bench engulfed by large leaves. Several pictures, including arresting images of Carson McCullers, Joan Miró, Susan Sontag and Francis Bacon, are previously unpublished. Some of the images confirm the persona of the subject: Carl Jung puffing on his pipe and William Faulkner rolling up his shirt sleeves as dogs nip at his heels. Others shed light on a familiar figure: Martin Luther King lost in thought at his cluttered desk, pen in one hand and his forehead resting in the other. These masterful photos blend the spontaneity of a great snapshot with the highly organized composition of a classical painting. 97 tritone reproductions. (May)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
“The pose reflects nothing so much as motion stilled for a moment―and thereby, once caught on film, for an eternity.”
- The Wall Street Journal
“The master of the ‘decisive moment’ brought the same ability to capture the essence of a situation to his portraiture.”
- Black and White
“Cartier-Bresson set out to unmask mysteries―the mystery of a photograph, of a human being who happened to be his subject that day and, perhaps, even of human connection itself.”
“Highly recommended for all libraries.”
- Library Journal
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But now to the photographs. There are shots here seen around the world of famous people: Marilyn Monroe, Martin Luther King, Jean Genet, Christian Dior (one of my favorites), Francis Bacon, Roland Barthes (fantastic photograph), a very young and pensive Carson McCullers. William Faulkner (another favorite), Henri Matisse, a very youthful and handsome John Huston, Truman Capote, Albert Camus et al.
What is so amazing, however, about these photographs is that the shots of strangers are just as intriguing and engage the viewer as much as the images of the rich and/or famous or both. For example, "Mexico" (p. 49), "Jewish ghetto, Warsaw" (p. 47), "Egypt" (p. 39), "Paris" (p. 81), "Zurich" (p. 105), and "Los Angeles" (p. 107). I for one would like to know more about this young couple.
These photographs, like all great art, invite us to view them again and again. Shot in gorgeous available natural light, they remind us of just how harsh and often pedestrian flash photography can be.
Sire closes her essay by saying that "an exhibition of these encounters would not only be one more tribute to his talent [Cartier-Bresson], as a photographer, but more importantly, would allow many aspects of his being to shine, like so many firefires in a field, because the gaze of these portraits is his gaze, linked by the thread of the other." Beautifully spoken.
there are notes, in the beginning of the book, describing some of HCB's philosophies on portraiture and photography in general, but the book is mostly filled with photographs.
I would have like to seen more text dealing with the specific images.
The images in this book are more posed and sculpted as opposed to Bresson photo-journalism / street type work.
You will find inspiration and a lot of images to study. This was a good purchase.
He had the ability to observe at close quarters and to capture the image without distracting the subject.
The portraits include famous extroverts, introverts, not - so -famous.
In each case the photographer has been allowed by the subject a look into the persona of the individual without the shield we normally see.
The quality of reproduction of the photographs in this book is truly exquisite and the accompanying information in the essays offers insights to the man and his art. As for content the images include portraits of world leaders in politics (Martin Luther King et al), literature (Jean Genet, William Faulkner et al), philosophers (Albert Camus et al), painters (Francis Bacon, Henri Matisse et al), and celebrities (Marilyn Monroe among many others), as well as portraits of peoples as places (his image of the Jewish Ghetto in Warsaw is particularly arresting).
Though there are many collections of the art of Cartier-Bresson, this book in its curated content and presentation is surely one of the finest examples of what the genius was all about. Grady Harp, July 10