Henri Cartier-Bresson

Henri Cartier-Bresson (1908-2004) developed a strong fascination for painting at a very early age. In 1931, after spending a year in Côte d'Ivoire, he discovered the Leica. He exhibited for the first time in 1933 at the Julien Levy Gallery in New York. He travelled in Europe, Mexico and then the United States, and began to take an interest in filmmaking. He collaborated with Jean Renoir in 1936 and 1939 and during the same period made three documentaries on the war in Spain.

Prisoner of war in 1940, he escaped in February 1943 and joined the Mouvement national des prisonniers de guerre et déportés. In 1945, he shot Le Retour, a documentary on the repatriation of prisoners of war and deportees. 

New York's MoMA devoted an exhibition to him in 1947, and that same year he founded the Magnum Photos agency with Robert Capa, David Seymour, George Rodger and William Vandivert. He spent three years in Asia, documenting the Communists' rise to power in China. In 1954, he became the first photographer to be admitted to the USSR since the start of the Cold War. He subsequently travelled extensively, and in 1974 decided to devote himself to drawing. Henri Cartier-Bresson is the author of many seminal books, including Images à la sauvette (Verve, 1952).

In 2003, the Henri Cartier-Bresson Foundation was set up in Paris, created with his wife, photographer Martine Franck and their daughter, Mélanie. The Foundation's mission is to promote their works and support artistic creation.


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