Henri Cartier-Bresson: Works for Sale, Upcoming Auctions & Past Results

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Henri Cartier-Bresson

French  •  1908-2004


Candidly capturing fleeting moments of beauty among the seemingly ordinary happenings of daily life, Henri Cartier-Bresson's work is intuitive and observational. Initially influenced by the Surrealists' "aimless walks of discovery," he began shooting on his Leica while traveling through Europe in 1932, revealing the hidden drama and idiosyncrasy in the everyday and mundane. The hand-held Leica allowed him ease of movement while attracting minimal notice as he wandered in foreign lands, taking images that matched his bohemian spontaneity with his painterly sense of composition.

Cartier-Bresson did not plan or arrange his photographs. His practice was to release the shutter at the moment his instincts told him the scene before him was in perfect balance. This he later famously titled "the decisive moment" — a concept that would influence photographers throughout the twentieth century. 


  • Henri Cartier-Bresson made steps towards consolidating photo-journalism as an art form when he co-founded Magnum Photo in Paris in 1947, along with Robert Capa, David "Chim" Seymour, George Rodger, William Vandivert, Rita Vandivert and Maria Eisner. 

  • His work is in multiple museum collections across the globe. Four museums, including the Victoria and Albert Museum, London, acquired the 'Master Collection' of his work — 385 prints chosen in 1979 by Henri Cartier-Bresson. 

  • Posthumous retrospectives of his work have taken place at both the MoMA (2010) and the Centre Pompidou (2014).

"To me, photography is the simultaneous recognition, in a fraction of a second, of the significance of an event as well as of a precise organization of forms which give that event its proper expression."

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