Mother about Cartier-Bresson's last photos (in August 1950):
photo in the armchair
... it's a bit too late; he [= Sri Aurobindo] was already beginning
to feel that ... the world wasn't ready to go to the end. There is already
the expression of suffering on his face. [...] As for Cartier-Bresson's
photos, they were taken in 1950. [...] When I saw the photo, when I
saw he had that expression ...
Because, with me, he never had it; he never showed it.
But I wasn't in the room when the photo was taken, and suddenly he ...
(he was sitting there, of course), he slackened. When I saw the photo
(because they came long after, we had to write and ask them to send
them), I was dumbfounded.... He had that expression.
I always saw him with a perfectly peaceful and smiling face, and above
all, the dominant expression was compassion. That was what predominated
in his appearance. An expression of compassion so ... so peaceful, so
tranquil, oh, magnificent.
From Mother's Agenda, volume 6, 16 June 1965. Online translation.
(this part of the talk has been tape-recorded and is available on
From an online-article on Cartier-Bresson for
a photo-seminar (original and full text here)
He [= Cartier-Bresson] has said that a sense of human dignity is an
essential quality for any photojournalist, and feels that no picture,
regardless of how brilliant from a visual or technical standpoint, can
be successful unless it grows from love and comprehension of people
and an awareness of " man facing his fate."
Many of his portraits of William Faulkner and other notables have become
definitive, catching as they do, with relaxed and casual brilliance,
the essence of personality.
His first book contained an often-quoted paragraph that sums up his
approach to photography and has become something of a creed for candid,
available light photojournalists everywhere. The decisive moment, as
Cartier-Bresson tersely defined it, is " the simultaneous recognition,
in a fraction of a second, of the significance of an event as well
as the precise organization of forms which gives that event its proper
Today, November 24, 2001, Henri Cartier-Bresson
is still alive. He is 93 years old.
More about Cartier-Bresson on the Web:
- Excellent article and biography by Stuart Nolan and Barbara Slaughter
on the World
Socialist Web Site;
- Another excellent article and biography by Philip Brookman on the
- Gallery of photos (taken from the big exhibition "Tête
à Tête") on two sites: Washington
Post Start-page & Portraits