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

    Cartier-Bresson, The Decisive Moment, pl. 88
    Cartier-Bresson, The World of Henri Cartier-Bresson, pl. 168
    Bibliothèque nationale de France, De qui s'agit-il?, p. 263
    Chéroux, Henri Cartier-Bresson: Here and Now, pl. 361
    Chéroux, Aperture Masters of Photography: Henri Cartier-Bresson, p. 63, there titled Refugees Exercising in Kurukshetra Refugee Camp, Punjab, India
    Chéroux, Discoveries: Henri Cartier-Bresson, p. 66
    Galassi, Henri Cartier-Bresson: The Modern Century, p. 257
    Montier, Henri Cartier-Bresson and the Artless Art, pl. 199
    Thames & Hudson, Henri Cartier-Bresson: In India, pl. 11
    Thames & Hudson, Henri Cartier-Bresson: Photographer, pl. 83
    Viking, Henri Cartier-Bresson: The Face of Asia, pp. 80-81

  • Catalogue Essay

    “There is idleness and despair where people are gathered without homes. At Kurukshetra camp they were given simple gymnastics to distract them, to work off their energies.” The Decisive Moment

    Henri Cartier-Bresson first traveled to India in December 1947, taking a 6,888 nautical mile journey by sea from England. Upon arriving, he encountered a newly independent nation whose people were experiencing mounting tensions due to the religiously based partition of India and Pakistan. Amidst this conflict, Cartier-Bresson captured one of his best known images, Srinagar, Kashmir, 1948, (lot 73), which depicts Muslim women praying on Hari Parbal Hill, with the rising sun illuminating the Himalayas.

    Most notably, in January 1948, Cartier-Bresson met with Mahatma Gandhi and documented the ceremonial breaking of a six day fast that Gandhi undertook as a call to restore peace. Only ninety minutes after their meeting on January 30, Gandhi was assassinated, and Cartier-Bresson, with his Leica camera, became a witness to history, capturing the immediate sorrow and subsequent proceedings for Gandhi’s cremation and the scattering of his ashes. The nationwide mourning is evocatively rendered in a depiction of Gandhi’s funeral pyre (lot 75). This coverage of Gandhi’s final days catapulted Cartier-Bresson’s status as a premier photojournalist, increasing demand for his pictures from leading publications including LIFE, Harper’s Bazaar, Now, and The New York Times Magazine. Over the course of the next 40 years, Cartier-Bresson continued to return to India, traveling there six times through 1987.

  • 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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Games in a refugee camp at Kurukshetra, Punjab, India

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

$8,000 - 12,000 

Sold for $13,750

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Henri Cartier-Bresson: The Eye of the Century

New York Auction 12 December 2017