Swan Lake, Bolshoi Theatre, Moscow, USSR

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  • Provenance

    Acquired directly from the artist

  • Literature

    Simon & Schuster, The People of Moscow, pl. 135

  • Catalogue Essay

    Having received governmental permission to visit the USSR, Henri Cartier-Bresson, who included a copy of The Decisive Moment with his visa application, traveled to Moscow with his wife Ratna Mohini in the summer of 1954. Speaking almost no Russian, they were accompanied by a state provided translator who also served as their guide. Cartier-Bresson’s photographs of the trip captured the everyday: inside schools, factories, stadiums, and concert halls, forming the basis of his book Moscow, which was published by Delpire, in 1954, and The People of Moscow, by Simon & Schuster in 1955. Cartier-Bresson then returned in 1973 stating, “After nineteen years since the first trip, I longed to go back and revisit Russia. There is nothing more revealing than comparing a country with itself by grasping its differences and trying to discover the thread of its continuity.”

  • Artist Bio

    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. 

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Swan Lake, Bolshoi Theatre, Moscow, USSR

Gelatin silver print, printed later.
17 5/8 x 11 7/8 in. (44.8 x 30.2 cm)
Signed in ink and copyright credit blindstamp in the margin.

$7,000 - 9,000 

sold for $10,625

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Henri Cartier-Bresson: The Eye of the Century

New York Auction 12 December 2017