Home>News Center>World

French photo legend Cartier-Bresson dead
Updated: 2004-08-05 11:05

Frenchman Henri Cartier-Bresson, one of the great photographers of the 20th century and a founding father of modern photojournalism, has died aged 95, family friends said Wednesday.

A founder of the Magnum picture agency in 1947 who admirers dubbed "the eye of the century," Cartier-Bresson died in the south of France Monday, LCI television channel said.

Henri Cartier-Bresson, widely regarded as one of the great photographers of the 20th century, has died aged 95, LCI television reported on August 4, 2004. The publicity-shy French photographer was a founding member of the Magnum picture agency in 1947. Cartier-Bresson is pictured in September 1989. [Reuters]
The Web site of newspaper Liberation said the photographer, an intensely private man, was buried Wednesday in a quiet family ceremony at Monjustin, in the Provence region.

"France has lost a photographer of genius, a true master, one of the most gifted artists of his generation and one of the most respected in the world," said President Jacques Chirac.

"He was the greatest. What he saw was extraordinary," said Sipa Press founder Goksin Sipahioglu. "He was a great and humble man."

Cartier-Bresson made his name partly by being in the right place at the right time, plus a talent for capturing in black and white what he called the "decisive moment."

During his career Cartier-Bresson documented some of the most emblematic moments and figures of the last century.

From the Spanish Civil war to the liberation of Paris during World War II, the death of India's Mahatma Gandhi to the fall of Beijing to Mao Zedong's forces in 1949 or the Berlin Wall.

In 1954, the Frenchman also became the first Western photographer allowed into the Soviet Union after the death of Soviet dictator Josef Stalin the previous year.

Cartier-Bresson's most striking photographs, such as the French boy proudly carrying two huge bottles with a little girl giggling behind him or the rotund man caught in mid-leap across a Paris puddle, illustrate the superb design, insight and gentle good humor characteristic of his work.

One of his most famous photographs, the 1938 "Picnic on the Banks of the Marne," shows a working-class family enjoying a picnic, innocently unaware of the camera's presence.


"In photography, you've got to be quick, quick, quick, quick, like an animal and a prey," Cartier-Bresson said in a rare filmed interview accompanying a 1979 exhibit of his works.

A visitor at the French National Library in Paris looks at a series of photographs by French master Henri Cartier-Bresson. [AFP]

"And you have to try to put your camera between the skin of a person and his shirt."

As a young man, Cartier-Bresson wanted to become a painter and studied in Paris with Cubist Andre Lohte and Jacques Emile Blanche, continuing to draw and paint throughout his life.

In 1935, he studied film-making in the United States. On his return to France he collaborated with Jean Renoir, son of the painter Pierre-Auguste Renoir, in making "La Regle du Jeu" and "Partie de Campagne," two outstanding pre-war French films.

In 1937, he made the documentary "Victoire de la Vie" on civil-war Spain, but the outbreak of World War II interrupted his film-making career. He directed one more documentary in 1944, but then turned wholeheartedly to still photography.

The son of a rich industrialist, Henri Cartier-Bresson was born in Chanteloup, near Paris, on Aug. 22, 1908. He began taking pictures with a simple box camera in the 1930s.

In World War II he spent three years in a German prison camp. He escaped twice, was caught, and then escaped again. He joined the French resistance and helped others to escape.

The publication in 1952 of "Images a la Sauvette" ("The Decisive Moment") marked the height of his technique, although he published many collections such as "China in Transition," "The People of Moscow," "Balinese Dancers" and "The Europeans."

Cartier-Bresson quit Magnum in 1966, but continued to take photographs, living in Paris with his second wife, photographer Martine Franck, and their adopted child.

He later abandoned the camera for his other love, drawing. Last year he set up the Fondation Henri Cartier-Bresson.

  Today's Top News     Top World News

Old industrial base creating more jobs



US urged to honour promise on Taiwan



Striking cabbies back to work in Yinchuan



Airlines deal with delay dilemma



Macao gets green light for RMB services



Schoolyard stabbing kills child, injures 18


  French photo legend Cartier-Bresson dead
  WTO deals new blow to 'big power' farm subsidies
  Abu Ghraib woman guard undisciplined
  Iraq coalition vows no more kidnap concessions
  Bush, Kerry paths nearly crossing in Iowa
  Mosul fighting kills 12; hostages freed
  Go to Another Section  
  Story Tools  
  News Talk  
  How Kerry Can Beat Bush