“Obsessed by what he saw”

This is my review of Henri Cartier-Bresson: The man, the image & the world: A retrospective by Philippe Arbaïzar,Jean Clair.

This large and heavy paperback may not fit easily on your shelves,but makes an enticing coffee table book with its large selection of Cartier-Bresson's celebrated black-and-white photos, usually with the black border showing that the original negative has not been cropped, and covering the span of his career (mainly 1930s – 1970s) spent travelling the world as a photojournalist, trying to capture "the decisive moment" or "fugitive instant" to represent the meaning of a scene or event. His gift for remaining unobtrusive, yet acting with feline speed when required, enabled him to obtain some striking but unposed and therefore more natural images.

The book includes a few biographical chapters and also interesting examples of his work as a small-scale film producer in the studio of Jean Renoir, plus the drawings and paintings to which he turned in old age, virtually abandoning the 35mm Leica which had made photography "his way of life".

You will find yourself poring for minutes on end over the spontaneous shots which preserve striking patterns of light and shade, geometric shapes made from the natural interplay of objects, insights into the lives of ordinary people captured in his "street photography" and impressions of landscapes, often resembling paintings in their composition.

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ 5 Stars

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