En ce moment

Henri Cartier-Bresson – Pérégrination, Europe (1930-1933)

du June 18 au September 29, 2019

Increasingly sensitive to the photographic medium, Henri Cartier‑Bresson, then aged about twenty, decided to go travelling around Europe. He and his friend, the writer André Pieyre de Mandiargues, set off in an old second-hand Buick on a long trip with two vast stages. This was the start of a real peregrination, not for the purposes of photographic reportage but a carefree, leisurely discovery of neighbouring countries; nothing is more alien to Henri Cartier-Bresson than the idea of « passing through ».

In 1931, Henri Cartier-Bresson and André Pieyre de Mandiargues chose Northern and Eastern Europe, crossing Belgium, Germany, Poland, Hungary and Czechoslovakia. The young Cartier‑Bresson, still driven by this carefree desire for freedom, continued his photographic experiences. Armed with the Krauss camera he had bought second hand before his trip to Africa the previous year and a wooden glass plate camera, he mostly took rather static shots of flea markets, ghettos and shop fronts. Finding that these cameras were too burdensome for travelling and allowed too much light to filter in, he then gave up this photographic technique and on his return to France, he bought a Leica which never left his side.

After a year spent wandering between Paris and Marseille, the two friends hit the road again in 1933, accompanied by Leonor Fini. This time, the three chose Italy then Spain; a three-month perambulation that saw a lot of frayed tempers and intellectual differences that faded with time.

With Italy (and the Leica), we see a wider, often contemplative field, sleeping bodies, landscapes crushed by light and an unquestionable attraction for lines. The trip to Spain seems to pass in the same spirit but marks a stage in Cartier‑Bresson’s professional career. During this trip, he got his first exhibition at Club Ateneo in Madrid, had his first sales of prints thanks to a solo exhibition at the Julien Levy Gallery (New York) and did his first photographic commission on the Spanish elections for VU magazine; this led to a publication in three episodes. Henri Cartier‑Bresson became thus aware of the violence of his photographic act, its pickpocket aspect. This turning point marks the beginnings of a brilliant career.

André Pieyre de Mandiargues wrote later: “Whenever I see Henri Cartier-Bresson today, I am always reminded of 1930, 1931 and the years that followed, when, in the course of car journeys all over Europe, and strolls in Paris, I witnessed the emergence of the greatest photographer of modern time.

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En ce moment

Wright Morris – L’essence du visible

du June 18 au September 29, 2019

A respected writer in the United States, the American Wright Morris (1910-1998) adopted an experimental approach to photography, seeking very early to “capture the essence of what is visible”. For the first time in France, the Fondation Henri Cartier-Bresson is offering a chance to share his vision both photographic and literary of America. This exhibition includes prints, books and documents from the Collection of the Estate of Wright Morris in San Francisco.

Wright Morris spent his childhood shunted between Nebraska, Chicago, his uncles’ farms and accompanying his father on long trips across America. At 23, he travelled through Europe and on his return decided to dedicate himself entirely to writing. He quickly realised that photography could seize what he had until then been attempting to “capture in words”. This formal research led to his first “photo-text”, The Inhabitants (1946), in which fictional texts are paired with photographs mainly taken in Nebraska, where he grew up.

Unlike his fiction which often focuses on flamboyant characters, his photographs are practically devoid of figures. And yet lots of life quietly leaks out between the chairs (omnipresent), mirrors, cars or even wooden architecture (fundamental). It is as if his photographs are rooted in the land, imbued with a disarming simplicity while retaining the enigmatic character of places and objects laid bare, with no human presence to bring them alive. Bard of the intimate, Wright Morris makes the invisible visible and this paradox is probably the most noble intention in photography.

The exhibition is accompanied by the catalogue L’essence du visible and the collection of texts Fragments de temps both published by Éditions Xavier Barral.

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Expositions passées

Guy Tillim – Museum of the Revolution

February 26 - June 2, 2019

Henri Cartier-Bresson, En France (1926-1938)

February 26 - June 2, 2019

Martine Franck

A Retrospective

November 6, 2018 - February 10, 2019

Robert Adams

Our Lives and Our Children

May 16 - July 29, 2018

Zbigniew Dłubak

Heir of the avant-garde

January 17 - April 29, 2018

Raymond Depardon


September 13 - December 24, 2017

Claude Iverné

Bilad es Sudan

May 11 - July 30, 2017

Henri Cartier-Bresson

Images à la Sauvette

January 11 - April 23, 2017