About this artwork
In Hyères, France, Henri Cartier-Bresson captured the instant when an ever-moving image—in this case, a bicyclist streaking by an iron railing—achieves a timeless harmony of form, expression, and content. An early work, taken before Cartier-Bresson was a professional photographer, this picture of the world in flux shows spontaneity, intuition, and a Surrealist whimsy. Cartier-Bresson’s keen sense of composition derived, in part, from his training as a painter, as well as an acknowledged indebtedness to André Kertész. Both photographers used a miniature Leica camera, which allowed for thirty-six exposures in quick succession and, because of its compact serviceability, acted as a true extension of the eye. So definite was Cartier-Bresson’s rapid-fire release of the shutter that he used the entire negative of the final print, unretouched and unmanipulated. This remarkable capacity to seize life’s calculated and coincidental ambiguities explains why his is one of the most influential visions of the twentieth century. In addition to his later celebrated photojournalistic works, Cartier-Bresson produced two films, published more than a dozen books, and in 1947 helped establish the collaborative photography agency Magnum.
Currently Off View
- Henri Cartier-Bresson
- Hyères, France
- Gelatin silver print
- Unmarked recto; inscribed verso, center, in blue ink "Henri Cartier-Bresson, 31 rue de Lisbonne, Paris 8"; verso, center, in pencil: "1" [encircled]; verso, bottom right, in red pencil: "B 418"; verso, lower bottom, in pencil: "37.648 J. Levy"; verso, top left, in pencil: "059"
- 19.8 × 29.5 cm (image/paper)
- Julien Levy Collection, Gift of Jean and Julien Levy