Henri Cartier-Bresson - Henri Cartier-Bresson: The Eye of the Century New York Tuesday, December 12, 2017 | Phillips

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  • Provenance

    Acquired directly from the artist

  • Literature

    Chéroux, Henri Cartier-Bresson: Here and Now, pl. 324
    Bulfinch, Henri Cartier-Bresson: City and Landscapes, pl. 84
    Chéroux, Discoveries: Henri Cartier-Bresson, pp. 104-105
    Clair, Henri Cartier-Bresson: Europeans, p. 115
    Galassi, Henri Cartier-Bresson: The Modern Century, p. 55
    Montier, Henri Cartier-Bresson and the Artless Art, pl. 48
    Thames & Hudson, Henri Cartier-Bresson: The Image and The World, pl. 344
    Thames & Hudson, Henri Cartier-Bresson: Photographer, pl. 44

  • Catalogue Essay

    While on assignment for publications such as Holiday and Harper’s Bazaar, Henri Cartier-Bresson explored the cities, neighborhoods, and towns of Italy and Greece, unveiling the countries’ unique charm to the magazines’ readerships. For Harper’s Bazaar Cartier-Bresson ventured to Rome in the fall of 1951, and later that year Scanno (lot 37) to capture the city at Christmas. In 1953, Cartier-Bresson went on assignment for Holiday. The premise of the magazine during its thirty year run, from 1946 to 1977, was to send out duos of writers and photographers to produce dynamic and enticing reportage without the constraints of a dictated style, budget, or page count. With this creative freedom in hand, Cartier-Bresson traveled extensively in Italy and throughout Europe with his wife Ratna Mohini and the writer Inge Morata, likely capturing images such as Torcello in the Venetian Lagoon (lot 43). Trips such as this revealed not only Italy’s natural landscape, but also its constructed social landscape, and Cartier-Bresson’s unique ability to find the serendipity and humor of life led him to moments like a child gleefully running into a single ray of light (lot 42) and a man cautiously peering out his shop window (lot 39), both captured in Rome.

    Cartier-Bresson’s trips throughout Italy also included documenting major religious events, such as the crowning of Pope John XXIII and cultural holidays like the Befana Festival during Epiphany. The folklore of the Befana tells, the tale of an elderly woman who travels by broomstick to deliver gifts to children on Epiphany Eve, a Christian holiday. Photo-stories of these events illustrated the deeply rooted influence of Catholicism on Italy’s religious-political structures, and on the country’s idiosyncratic cultural nuances.

  • Artist Biography

    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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Siphnos, Greece

Gelatin silver print, printed later.
11 3/4 x 17 5/8 in. (29.8 x 44.8 cm)
Signed in ink and copyright credit blindstamp in the margin.

$10,000 - 15,000 

Sold for $52,500

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Henri Cartier-Bresson: The Eye of the Century

New York Auction 12 December 2017