Martine Franck

Born in Antwerp, Belgium, on 2 April 1938, into a family that was Flemish by origin, Martine Franck enjoyed a cosmopolitan childhood, immersed in culture and art. It was on a trip to the Far East with her life-long friend, Ariane Mnouchkine, that she discovered photography. Back in Paris, she worked for Time-Life before becoming an independent photographer. Working with major US magazines, her features, portraits of artists and writers, were published in LifeThe New York Times, and Vogue. During this period, she also became a founding member of the Théâtre du Soleil, then the official photographer of Ariane Mnouchkine’s troupe, which she never left, presenting shows, stagings and the daily life at La Cartoucherie. 

In 1970, she married Henri Cartier-Bresson, “the eye of the century”, who she had met four years before. The same year, she joined the Vu agency, and participated two years later in the creation of the Viva agency. Associated with the Magnum agency, she became a member in 1983. She undertook a large-scale project for women’s rights at that time. Increasingly political in her art, Martine Franck focused on subjects of social significance in a desire to bear witness to reality : “My main goal is to present images that make people think.” At that time, she produced many reports supporting humanitarian causes and worked with the Petits Frères des pauvres association, working for people suffering from solitude, poverty, exclusion or serious illnesses. In the 1990s, she travelled several times to Ireland and Asia to produce reports on Tory island and the Tulkus. 

In 2002, along with Henri Cartier-Bresson and their daughter Mélanie, she created the Fondation HCB, which she was to preside and passionately support until her death in 2012, making it one of the high temples of photography. Her work, which has been presented on numerous occasions, belongs to the collections of the greatest museums worldwide.

Martine Franck


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