Henri Cartier-Bresson (French, 1908-2004), Alberto Giacometti, Paris, 1961 (printed 1963), Gelatin silver print, Purchase, Advisory Council for Photography, 2002.11

Henri Cartier-Bresson (French, 1908-2004), Alberto Giacometti, Paris, 1961 (printed 1963), Gelatin silver print, Purchase, Advisory Council for Photography, 2002.11

On August 22, 1908 Henri Cartier-Bresson was born in the village of Chanteloup, near Paris. His work has recently been featured in an exhibition at the MoMA and is currently on view at the Art Institute of Chicago.  Both exhibitions have ignited a renewed interest in the work of this photographer who had the uncanny ability to capture a moment.

When Alberto Giacometti died, this candid image recorded by Cartier-Bresson was reprinted in numerous publications. John Berger considered the photograph a remarkable reflection of the artist’s character and understood newspaper editors’ choice of it for obituaries and commemoratives. He wrote of the photograph:

“The immediate effect of the photograph, published when it was, depended upon it showing an image of a man curiously casual about his own well-being. A man with crumpled trousers and old shoes, ill-equipped for the rain. A man who preoccupations took no note of the seasons…

The coat looks as though it has been borrowed. He looks as though underneath the coat he is wearing nothing except his trousers. He has the air of a survivor. But not in the tragic sense. He has become quite used to his position.”

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