Tributes flow for Cartier-Bresson

5th August 2004, Comments 0 comments

PARIS, Aug 5 (AFP) - Lavish tributes were paid Thursday to Henri Cartier-Bresson, the pioneering French photographer and co-founder of the Magnum picture agency who died earlier this week at the age of 95.

PARIS, Aug 5 (AFP) - Lavish tributes were paid Thursday to Henri Cartier-Bresson, the pioneering French photographer and co-founder of the Magnum picture agency who died earlier this week at the age of 95.

In France newspapers carried several-page spreads detailing his life and works, and radio and television stations announced a series of special programmes.

"Most of his peers saw in Henri Cartier-Bresson ... the greatest photographer of modern times. For ordinary mortals he was a kind of one-eyed demi-god who invented the world of the 20th century - in the sense that he who discovers a treasure is its inventor," Liberation newspaper said.

"He opened our eyes to the world," it concluded.

Writing in Le Monde newspaper, fellow photographer Richard Avedon said, "He was the Tolstoy of photography. With his profound humanity he was the witness of the 20th century."

"He was one of the first artists of the modern era to enter a kind of debate with technology, because he created his language out of a camera," said another photographer Gilles Peress.

The international press also devoted lengthy obituaries to the legendary figure, who died on Tuesday at his home in the south of France.

"He was far more than a gifted photojournalist. He combined a Rabelaisian appetite for the world with a clarity of vision and intellectual order that linked him to the masters of French art like Nicolas Poussin," read a tribute in the New York Times.

"His wit, lyricism and ability to see the geometry of a fleeting image and capture it in the blink of an eye reshaped and created a new standard for the art of photography," it said.

Britain's Daily Telegraph described him as the "prime mover in the revolution that in the 20th century transformed photography from a scientific curiosity into a modern art form.

"He brought to the medium the eye of a painter and the temperament of a philosopher. Cartier-Bresson gave his discipline purpose, and the resulting images persuaded the world that photography was not simply the mechanical reproduction of life but a valid form of self-expression."

The Times published a more nuanced obituary, saying that some of the "legends" about his work - for example that he never cropped his pictures and only ever took one shot of the "decisive moment" - were fostered by himself and untrue.

And it went on: "Cartier-Bresson's status as one of the founders of modern photography is assured, and all photographers feel his influence, but as long ago as 1957 he was being criticised for never having adapted, and his style of elegant observation has since been sidelined by television."

"He remained a painter first and a photographer second," the Times concluded.

But in the Guardian, obituarist Andrew Robinson rhapsodised: "We must be eternally grateful for what those penetrating blue eyes chose to record over more than half a century.

"Whatever else he was, Cartier-Bresson was in love with life. His photographs are mysteriously alive, balletic, and his finest portraits have the complex presence of Cezanne or Rembrandt."

© AFP

Subject: French news

0 Comments To This Article