img. Salerno, Italy 1933, © Henri Cartier-Bresson / Magnum Photos.
On 8 March, the monumental exhibition Henri Cartier-Bresson Photographer, 140 photographs opened at la Mole Vanvitelliana in Ancona. It is promoted by the Comune di Ancona and organized by Civita Mostre, in collaboration with the Fondation Henri Cartier-Bresson and Magnum Photos Paris.
“I’m just a nervous person, and I love painting.” …”As to photography, I don’t understand anything about it” Henri Cartier-Bresson used to say. Not understanding anything about photography, also meant not developing his own shots: this is something he would leave to professional photographers. He didn’t want any editing of the negatives or of the frames: each photo must be judged on the photographer’s ability to catch the here and now, and on the portrayed subject’s immediate response.
According to Cartier-Bresson, the photographic technique is only a tool that should not prevail on nor upset the initial experience, which is the real time defining a work’s meaning and value.Henri Cartier-Bresson never revises his pictures, there is no selection, it is either accept it or discard it. Nothing else. Hence, he is just right when he says he doesn’t understand anything about photography in a world which, conversely, has elevated this art to a tool of illusion par excellence.
His photos catch the contemporary nature of things and life. His shots testify to his clear and accurate perception and to the order of forms. “For me the camera is a sketch book, an instrument of intuition and spontaneity, the master of the instant which, in visual terms, questions and decides simultaneously. In order to ‘give a meaning’ to the world, one has to feel oneself involved in what one frames through the viewfinder. This attitude requires concentration, a discipline of the mind, sensitivity, and a sense of geometry. It is by great economy of means that one arrives at simplicity of expression.”
In order to talk about Henri Cartier-Bresson, it is important to understand his life, affirms Denis Curti, the curator of the exhibition in Ancona, as the artist’s experience in the field of photography is completely intermixed with his personal life. Two episodes clearly demonstrate this. In 1946 Cartier-Bresson discovered that MOMA New York was planning a ‘posthumous’ exhibition of his work, as he was believed to have died in war. He got in touch with the curator to clear up this misunderstanding, and, with great irony, dedicated more than a year to preparing the exhibition, which opened in 1947. In the same year he founded, with Robert Capa, George Rodger, David Seymour and William Vandivert, the famous Magnum Photos agency.
Clearly, Cartier-Bresson is a photographer destined for immortality, capable of re-writing the vocabulary of modern photography and influencing entire generations of new photographers.Regarding the creation of Magnum Photos, it is still today an important agency for photojournalism. Ferdinando Scianna, for many years the only Italian working with the agency, wrote: “Magnum continues to survive due to its founders egalitarian and utopian values. Mysteriously, it has allowed the most violent contradictions to coexist, and this is the thing that excites me most. As an individualist Sicilian, it’s difficult for me to feel like part of a group, but if I have to see myself as part of one, this is the tradition that I recognize myself in.” Henri Cartier-Bresson, photographer exhibits a selection of photographs originally curated by his friend the editor Robert Delphire, who passed away last year, and is realized in collaboration with the Fondation Henri Cartier-Bresson. The institution was created in 2003 by Cartier-Bresson, together with his wife Martine Franck and his daughter Mélanie, with the aim of collecting his works and creating an exhibition space open to other artists. The setup project of the exhibition is conceived by Denis Curti and Andrea Holzherr on behalf of Magnum Photos.
The objective of this exhibition is to share and understand Cartier-Bresson’s modus operandi: his search for contact with others in the most diverse situations and places, treating us to habit-breaking surprises and mind-opening wonders, thanks to these moments immortalized by his camera.
More info: http://www.cartierbressonancona.it/
Henri CARTIER-BRESSON. Photographer
When: 8th March – 17th June 2018
Where: Mole Vanvitelliana, Ancona