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Nevertheless, Cartier-Bresson chose to stay true to his format and take the picture in black and white which helps in the translation of what is seen and not seen, in this writer's opinion. The rag pickers are standing in a sea of fabric, most likely discarded by manufacturer's shipping from an impoverished to an industrialized country. The very people who make the fabrics from the natural resources of their native lands, cannot afford to own them outright. As such, it is necessary for the men to clothes themselves and most likely their families with the remnants that are left over.
The last photograph that I chose as a part of my review of the work of Henri Cartier-Bresson was unnamed, and therefore I refer to it as "Children at Play." There were a plethora of photographs to select from as the photographer worked extensively for more than 7 decades. However, this photograph stood out to me because of what it represented for the times in which it was taken as well as the visual and personal impact it had on me upon seeing it. The photograph, for me, represents the innocence of children at play without thought of their surroundings and the circumstances of the times. The children are both smiling and happy in their own right. They are playing with each other despite the fact that they represent different races, ethnicities, possibly socioeconomic classes, and futures. Whatever time frame this picture was captured in is not quite discernable; however, the representation supersedes the era in which the activity took place. Once again, Cartier-Bresson was able to capture the very essence of the moment without impeding the activities that were taking place at the time. He was there, but from the photograph the subjects do not appear to have been positively or negatively impacted by his presence.
What is most interesting about a number of the photographs taken by Cartier-Bresson is that they exist without significant commentary from the artist. In doing so, he leaves the interpretation of the work to the observer. What I as an observer of the photographs highlighted here may not have been the thought processes of the photographer when he took the pictures. Nevertheless, the impact of the images and the environments in which the photographs were taken avail the observer the opportunity to decide for him or herself what the photographs represent for each individual. That is genius.
Henri Cartier-Bresson was a world renowned photographer who left an indelible impression of the artistic world. His influence is not relegated to photography but has served to impact many artists from a variety of genres for many years, and will serve to influence those who come after him both within the discipline of photography as well as art on the whole. Although Cartier-Bresson began his artistic career in painting and studied under one of the premiere painters and sculptors of his time, he chose to direct his talents in another direction.
Cartier-Bresson was famous as much for his work as he was for his philosophy regarding what was necessary in order to take a good photograph. He insisted that it wasn't as much about the end result but more about being part of the process, being in the moment, without his actions of taking pictures in anyway influencing what was happening with the people or the environments in which the photographs were taken. Although there has not been a plethora of negative commentary regarding the auspicious work of Henri Cartier-Bresson, there are some nay sayers who feel his perspective was articulated in much too simplistic a manner. However, that is the beauty of the work and the artist. He did not require fancy words to get his artistic point-of-view across.
Fortunately, while denying "the decisive moment" Cartier-Bresson has left us with his own more explicit statement of what he thought was essential to photography for him: "For me photography is to place head and heart and eye along the same line of sight. It's a way of life" (Riper 2002; Warren 2005). Even though Henri Cartier-Bresson wrote books, made documentary films and expressed his artistic talent in a number of mediums, his photographic work will always stand out as the work of a legend.
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Galassi, Peter. Henri Cartier-Bresson: the Modern century. London: Thames & Hudson, 2010.
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Montier, J. Portrait: First sketch, Henri Cartier-Bresson and the artless art.…[continue]
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