Henri Cartier-Bresson Compile Bibliography Research Paper

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Henri Cartier-Bresson Compile Bibliography

"Cartier-Bresson has the weakness of his strength: an Apollonian elevation that subjugates life to an order of things already known, if never so well seen. He said that the essence of his art was "the simultaneous recognition, in a fraction of a second, of the significance of an event, as well as the precise organization of forms which give that event its proper expression." (Schjeldahl, 1).It is safe to state that Henri Cartier-Bresson is recognized all over the world as one of the most important photographers from all time. Looking at his work, one notices the interest of the artist in real life street scenes. Although the object of interest might not be considered that exciting in itself, the atmosphere and soul of the photos render them extraordinary. Bresson is famous for the snippets of life which he managed to capture with his camera.

One might consider Bresson a classic of photography. His works are illustrations of humanity's manifestations. Bresson is very difficult to imitate, also because the world has changed so much that it no longer allows for the same type of representations. Nevertheless, he is a teacher or why not, a maitre for all the people who are fond of photography. Regardless if one is a photographer himself or a mere observer, Bresson remains a fundamental point of reference.

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In other words it could be said that Cartier-Bresson has become famous through his spontaneous photos of people and situations. Just like the quote above suggests, his genius is to be found in the simplicity of his works. Yet this simplicity is only apparent, since the meaning conveyed is rather profound. The universal dimension of his representations is another factor which contributes to his success.

Research Paper on Henri Cartier-Bresson Compile Bibliography "Cartier-Bresson Has the Assignment

Schjeldahl underlines the complexity of Bresson's shots stating that he succeeds not only in capturing beautiful moments and significant events, but also in allowing the viewer to understand what were the mechanisms which have led to the creation of that event. In this manner, the snap is a recording of the very climax of a series of events and the viewer feels blessed to have been given the opportunity to witness it. Therefore, there is also a strong psychological dimension behind Bresson's works- which has contributed to rendering him universally known.

2. When speaking of an artist like Cartier-Bresson it is important to understand the style of work which he incarnates. Right from the beginning it must be mentioned that before taking on photography, Bresson was interested in painting. One might assume that this specific practice has modified his vision in a certain sense. The genius of his photos is that they seem to be mere snaps, shots which he has taken because he just happened to be in the right place at the right time, holding a small and light film camera in his hands. The truth is that there is a vision behind the taking of the photos and in a certain way they are constructed in a similar manner to paintings. The difference is that while the painter creates the scene and the characters from zero, having his imagination as the main point of reference, the photographer is there to record a scene which takes place independently of his will and power. Nevertheless, Bresson's photos give the viewer the impression that they can also read the history behind the event he is witnessing.

Another element which helped Bresson distinguish himself from other contemporary photographers was the use of small and light cameras. With him, photography as fine art records a shift as far as the place of creation is concerned. The big cameras recording staged representations in studios are abandoned for the light cameras which record simple and unplanned scenes taking place on the streets. And surprisingly, the drama and comedy which are to be found in the "real" world are more powerful than the ones which might be conceived in a cinematographic studio. From an artistic point-of-view, Bresson marks the period when the camera becomes a sort of second eye of the beholder "Once he had picked it up, back in the early 1930s, his Leica, a brand that he made famous around the world, became the true "extension of his eye. For him, from a simple way of seeing, photography became a way of thinking, feeling (with the appropriate distance), and a way of life" (Chalifour,1).

3. The artistic influences which he underwent, were important factors which contributed to the creation of his personal style. One which has already been mentioned is represented by painting. The technique allowed him to train his eye in the search for light and also in the composition of the scene. Yet, this is not the only important factor which has determined Bresson's style. Personal experiences must have also played a very important part in the creation of his vision. Here one might mention the fact that the artist survived black fever in Africa. In fact, the traveling that he was able to do and the special characters and situations that he encountered were a fundamental influence upon his work.

One of the central factors to his work is represented by the so-called "decisive moment." It was the photographer himself who underlined that photography is not like painting. The painter has absolute power upon his work, while the photographer can only record what occurs around him. The task of the photographer is seen as even more difficult when we think about his additional tasks: that of being able to perceive that such a decisive moment is about to occur, that of properly managing the form (light, tones, proportion, setting, etc.).

The photographic agency Magnum was another factor which played a profound role in the shaping of Bresson's vision. The agency was the means which allowed him to travel throughout the world, with the task of recording events and people who were very important for those times and not only. In his trips the photographer had the opportunity to observe the differences and similarities which characterize people living in completely different cultural environments. It could be stated that his trips allowed him to become a very good recognizer of humanity and this shows in his photographs. (Assouline, 43)

4. It is safe to say that the photographic creations of Bresson were inspired by what was going on in the world at the time when he started to dedicate himself thoroughly to this form of art. The most important event which has marked his life and the one of his contemporaries is represented by the world war. The destruction which it brought and the consequences at spiritual level could not be ignored. On the one hand, the world was divided according to the interests they supported. From this point-of-view it somehow made sense to fight for the things that one believed in. On the other hand, the disaster that the battles brought about were a clear demonstration that regardless of the final winner of the war, all the implied parties were actually losers.

The context of the war had a very powerful influence upon the manner in which people perceived life. It is true that times were hard and that there was a widespread fear of death and further destruction. However, it is just as true that life was celebrated in all the little things. It is from this perspective that one must interpret the work of Bresson. A photo depicting a group of young girls dressed alike and playing in front of ruins is more than the recording of an event taking place in that period. A photo of the sort is a metaphor for the surviving of humanity. A meta text suggesting that the destruction of matter may affect the spirit, but it can never break it down. Under these circumstances, the girls become symbols of the spirit and of survival. The social and historical context in which Bresson performed his creative process allowed for his work to become an important metatext. (Cartier-Bresson, Bonnefoy, 20-60).

5. When speaking about an artist's work, it is normal to wonder about the issues which he is concerned with. Taking into account the formation process of Bresson, it is only normal to wonder what are the values which he was trying to convey through his creations. In one of his interviews, the artist declared "To me, photography is a simultaneous recognition in a fraction of a second of a significance of an event as well as of a precise organization of form which gives that event its proper expression. I believe that, for reactive living, the discovery of oneself is made concurrently with the discovery of the world around us, which can mold us, but which can also be affected by us. A balance must be established between these two worlds: the one inside us, and the one outside us. As the result of a constant reciprocal process, both these worlds come to form a single one. And it is this world that we… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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