“To photograph is to hold one’s breath, when all faculties converge to capture fleeting reality. It’s at that precise moment that mastering an image becomes a great physical and intellectual joy.”-Henri Cartier Bresson.
Henri Cartier Bresson's photographs all have a way of representing himself as a person. When he lived he was a myth, and when he died he became a legend. He captured the essence of time in his period, thereby paving his way to modern photojournalism. The recent exhibition of Henri Cartier Bresson in Korea is the 11th exhibition since its first in France on May, 2003. The Korean exhibition displayed the photographs of decisive moments by the famous photographer. With more than 200 works on display, the exhibition is divided into 5 sections.
Who is he?
Henri Cartier Bresson is a French professional photographer who was born in Chanteloup en-Brie, Seine et Marne, France in 1908. Around 1931, he had a chance to learn photography. He then started to take pictures in Africa. He traveled throughout France, Italy, and Spain thereafter and began to seriously take up photography by starting his collections.
During the outbreak of World WarⅡ, Bresson was captured by the Germans while serving in the French military. After three attempts to escape, he succeeded in returning to Paris. On his return, he joined the photographic unit of the Resistance in France and captured the images of Nazi occupation and the liberation of Paris.
In 1952 he published the famous photo book <The Decisive Moment>, which instantly earned praise and fame by the public. His photographic philosophy is deeply embedded in <The Decisive Moment>. The perfect moment is captured only when the composition and the content in a photo is in perfect harmony. This is only acquired through simplicity and the principle of geometric composition. Since Bresson coined the phrase "The Decisive Moment," it has continued to serve as an inspiration to various photographers. Today, the concept is widely used an accepted in the art world of photography.
The Moment, 『The moment within the perfect harmony of light, contrast, and form』
Moment. What exactly is the moment? The same question may slip through viewers' minds the moment they look at "Hyères" Every object is static, except for the bicycle that looks dynamic. ‘Ivry-Quai de-Seine’ has a similar composition. The photo also does not have any movement except for the dog. Bresson seems to be talking through these pictures :“ A photographer should know when to click the shutter with the instinct of a hunter."There is another similarity within the photographs in this section. Whether it be a tiny person or a large one, it is always photographed in the midst of the landscape to give movement to the finished product. In addition, Bresson incorporates zigzag patterns in his photography. ‘Sifnos’ and ‘Aquila degli Abruzzi’ in particular use the zigzag format. The black and white photos are effective in capturing the moment more dramatically. People's movements are accentuated with the contrast of the relatively darker people to the whiteness of the background. If the photographs were in color, viewers might have been more drawn to the overall background, not the people.
Inner Empathy, 『Leaving a permanent trace of emotional moments』
The photos exhibited in the section of ‘Inner Empathy’ follows the principle of geometric composition. Many pictures are gray, without a big contrast. The overall tone of ‘Cite Island’, is also primarily gray, provoking a sense of awe at how much the photo looks like a pencil drawing. ‘Manhattan’ is a work that evokes compassion. A cat is sitting in between buildings and to the opposite is a man looking at the cat. The photo reveals the desolation and loneliness of city life. Followed by 'Manhattan' is ‘Kashmir’. It is another feeling to see the photograph in person than to see it online. A woman in the field looks like Virgin Mary, giving a sense of holiness to the photograph.
Master’s Faces, 『Clicks of shutter driven by intense emotional feelings』
In this section, portraits of leading figures in the 20th Century are displayed. Bresson never failed to capture the emotional impulses from personal eccentricities, unexpected impressions or lasting moments. At first glance, Jean-Paul Sartre might seem to be staring directly at the camera in the photograph. However, Sartre is actually looking to the left if you look closely. There is no manipulation or modification to the picture itself. The photo of Arthur Miller, the writer of ‘Death of a Salesman,' arouses a sense of compassion. The shadow that casts over people's faces remind viewers of the characters in his book.
The Truth of the Times, 『Through the eyes of the 20th Century』
This section showcases the important moments and traces of the 20th century. Bresson pursued photographic ideology by taking pictures of what he deemed as the 'truth'. In particular, each photos represent various countries and different eras. From the construction of the Berlin Wall to the bucolic settings of Ireland, the photos capture various moments that shape our history. Bresson also successfully records the ordinary life of ordinary people through which viewers can get a glimpse of the artist’s philosophy.
Humanism, 『The Tolstoy of photography-Deep attachment to people』
Humanism was a philosophy of Bresson's photography. Cartier Bresson loved simplicity and humble people. Although the photos may seem simple, they carry a message that transcends the simplicity. In particular, there are lots of photographs that express family love. Much of his works can be seen in everyday homes, but there is an extra warmth that touches people's hearts. By looking at pictures of farmers, a picnic over a dried river and so on, viewers can understand Bresson's efforts behind understanding the nature of human beings.
< 저작권자 © 중앙헤럴드 무단전재 및 재배포금지 >
Basic Information and Admission
Place: Sejong Center Exhibition Hall 1
Time: AM 11:00~PM 8:30
Price: Adult-\12,000/ Teenager-\8,000/ Child-\7,000
In addition to photographs, there is also a display of various prints, childhood family pictures, press pass, letters and handwritten manuscripts and many more by Bresson. Why not enrich yourself by taking an emotional journey into the world of Henri Cartier Bresson this weekend? Become a part of the moment and seize it while it lasts.