Fri, Aug 06, 2004 - Page 6 News List

Photographer Cartier-Bresson dies


Eminent photographer Henri Cartier-Bresson, pictured in a 1989 file photo, has died at age 95, France's LCI television reported on Wednesday.


Legendary photographer Henri Cartier-Bresson, who traveled the world for more than a half-century capturing human drama with his camera, has died, the French Cul-ture Ministry said. He was 95.

Cartier-Bresson shot for Life, Vogue and Harper's Bazaar and his work inspired generations of photographers. Cartier-Bresson became a French national treasure, though he was famously averse to having his own picture taken or to giving interviews.

A statement from his family and the Magnum photo agency, which Cartier-Bresson co-founded, said he died on Tuesday and a private funeral was held on Wednesday.

Paul Bruton, a Magnum spokes-man, said he had died at home in Cereste in southeastern France, and was buried in the nearby Alpes-de-Haute-Provence region.

French President Jacques Chirac said: "With him, France loses a genius photographer, a true master and one of the most gifted artists of his generation and most respected in the world."

Whether recording the funeral of Mahatma Gandhi in India or Henri Matisse at home, Cartier-Bresson sought to render the feeling of the moment with his distinctive classical style and penchant for geometrical composition.

"In whatever one does, there must be a relationship between the eye and the heart," he once said in a rare interview. "With the one eye that is closed, one looks within; with the other eye that is open, one looks without."

His photography centered on what he described as "the decisive moment" evoking the significance of a given situation as all the external elements fall into place.

Cartier-Bresson worked only with black-and-white film and without a flash. Thrusting a subject in the limelight, he once said, was a sure way to destroy it.

While most of his international fame was generated from worldwide exhibitions and publications, Cartier-Bresson gained recognition from two documentary films he made, one about medical aid to the loyalists in the Spanish Civil War and the other about French prisoners of war returning home at the end of World War II.

Cartier-Bresson was born Aug. 22, 1908, in Chanteloup outside Paris to a wealthy textile family. At 20, he turned his back on the family business to study painting. He had his first exhibitions in Madrid and New York in 1933.

At the outbreak of World War II, he was drafted into the French army, where he was captured in June 1940. After nearly three years in German prison camps, Cartier-Bresson escaped and returned to Paris, where he transported ex-prisoners for the underground.

In the last 25 years of his life, Cartier-Bresson largely turned away from photography to embrace his first love, painting.

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