Henri Cartier-Bresson: The Biography

Henri Cartier-Bresson: The Biography

by Pierre Assouline
     
 

The first full biography ever published on this complex, curious, brilliant man.
The twentieth century was the century of the image and Henri Cartier-Bresson (1908-2004) was the eye of the century. Through the decades, this eye focused on Africa in the 1920s, the tragic fate of the Spanish Republicans, and the victory of the Chinese Communists. It was

Overview

The first full biography ever published on this complex, curious, brilliant man.
The twentieth century was the century of the image and Henri Cartier-Bresson (1908-2004) was the eye of the century. Through the decades, this eye focused on Africa in the 1920s, the tragic fate of the Spanish Republicans, and the victory of the Chinese Communists. It was Cartier-Bresson who fixed in our minds the features of his contemporaries: Giacometti and Sartre as characters from their own works; Mauriac mysteriously levitating; Faulkner, Matisse, Camus, and countless others captured at the decisive moment in portraits for eternity.
An intensely private individual, Cartier-Bresson confided in his close friend Pierre Assouline over a number of years, even opening up his archives to him. Here, for the first time, we read about his youthful devotion to surrealism; his unending passion for drawing; the war and the prison camps; the friends and the women in his life. Assouline provides an acute and perceptive account of the life and philosophy of this icon of our times, and gives us an opportunity to reassess his contribution to twentieth-century photography and reportage. 23 illustrations.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Often called the father of photojournalism, Cartier-Bresson tried to give up photography as a profession four times in his life, returning to his first love, painting, repeatedly-but he always kept his Leica in his pocket. The Frenchman captured the emotion and magnitude of some of the 20th century's most significant news stories by simply turning his camera away from the main event and into the crowd. This, too, is Assouline's approach to biography. Drawing on five years of conversations with his subject, Assouline presents not a chronological or critical accounting of events but a portrait, illustrated through descriptions of Cartier-Bresson's photographs (almost none of which are reproduced in the book) and summarized with generalizations of the artist's approach toward art and life: "His taste was classical: he needed that kind of order to counter the vulgarity of the world outside" or "In affairs of the heart, he was a seductive romantic." Energetic and informative passages describe Cartier-Bresson's years as a soldier and his travels to the Ivory Coast, China and India (where he photographed Gandhi just hours before his death). Despite its gaps-such as mere passing references to Cartier-Bresson's two marriages-this smooth hagiography will inspire fans and followers to rediscover its elusive subject's remarkable oeuvre. (Nov. 28) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
Biographer Assouline, editor in chief of the French magazine Lire, met photographer Henri Cartier-Bresson in Paris in 1994, ten years before the artist's death at the age of 96. They spent more than five hours chatting, and although the intensely private Cartier-Bresson was set against the idea of a biography of himself, he continued to speak and correspond with Assouline through the coming years. Assouline analyzed Cartier-Bresson's oeuvre in great detail; studied the history of Magnum Photos, the photography cooperative Cartier-Bresson founded; and, using Cartier-Bresson's own reminiscences and insights, went on to write this biography of the only photographer whose work was included in E.H. Gombrich's classic, The Story of Art. Assouline notes that his goal was to devote his book "to every aspect" of his subject, and this he has achieved. Highly recommended for public and academic libraries. (Readers will want a book of Cartier-Bresson's photographs on hand-the 25 photos included here are mostly pictures of Cartier-Bresson and his family at home and abroad.)-Marcia Welsh, Dartmouth Coll. Lib., Hanover, NH Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780500512234
Publisher:
Thames & Hudson
Publication date:
11/19/2005
Pages:
386
Product dimensions:
6.60(w) x 9.40(h) x 1.20(d)

Meet the Author

Pierre Assouline, a writer and journalist, has written biographies of Georges Simenon, Hergé, and others. He lives in Paris.

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