Born in Chanteloup-en-Brie, Seine-et-Marne, Henri Cartier-Bresson developed a strong fascination with painting early on, and particularly with Surrealism. In 1932, after spending a year in the Ivory Coast, he discovered the Leica – his camera of choice after that moment – and began a life-long passion for photography. In 1933, he had his first exhibition at the Julien Levy Gallery in New York. He later made films with Jean Renoir.
Taken prisoner of war in 1940, he escaped on his third attempt in 1943 and subsequently joined an underground organization to assist prisoners and escapees. In 1945, he photographed the liberation of Paris with a group of professional journalists and then filmed the documentary Le Retour (The Return).
In 1947, with Robert Capa, George Rodger, David ‘Chim’ Seymour and William Vandivert, he founded Magnum Photos. After three years he had spent travelling in the East, in 1952, he returned to Europe, where he published his first book, Images à la Sauvette (published in English as The Decisive Moment). He explained his approach to photography in these terms, ‘”For me the camera is a sketch book, an instrument of intuition and spontaneity, the master of the instant which, in visual terms, questions and decides simultaneously. It is by economy of means that one arrives at simplicity of expression.”
From 1968, he began to curtail his photographic activities, preferring to concentrate on drawing and painting. In 2003, with his wife and daughter, he created the Fondation Henri Cartier-Bresson in Paris for the preservation of his work. Cartier-Bresson received an extraordinary number of prizes, awards, and honorary doctorates. He died at his home in Provence on 3 August 2004, a few weeks short of his 96th birthday.


Scrapbook, Steidl, Germany
Portraits par Henri Cartier-Bresson, Thames & Hudson, France;
(The portraits of Henri Cartier-Bresson) Thames & Hudson, UK
De qui s’agit-il ?, Gallimard/Bibliothèque Nationale de France;
(The Man, the Image and the World) Thames & Hudson, UK;
(Di chi si tratta ?) Contrasto, Italy
Paysages, Delpire éditeur; (Landscape Townscape) Thames & Hudson, UK;
(City and Landscapes) Bulfinch, USA; (Paesaggi) Contrasto, Italy;
(Landschaften und Städte) Schirmer & Mosel, Germany
Tête à Tête, Gallimard, France; Thames & Hudson, UK;
Bulfinch, USA; Schirmer & Mosel, Germany;
Leonardo Arte, Italy
Des Européens, Le Seuil, France; (Europeans) Thames & Hudson, UK;
Bulfinch, USA; (Europaër) Schirmer & Mosel, Germany;
(Gli Europei) Peliti Associati, Italy
L’Imaginaire d’Après Nature, Fata Morgana, France; (The Mind’s eye)
Aperture, USA
Carnets mexicains 1934-1964, Hazan, France;
(Mexican Notebooks 1934-1964) Thames & Hudson, UK;
(Henri Cartier-Bresson Messico 1934-1964) Federico Motta Editore, Italy
L’Art Sans Art, Flammarion, France; (Henri Cartier-Bresson and the Artless Art)
Thames & Hudson, UK;
Bulfinch, USA; (Henri Cartier-Bresson Seine Kunst Sein Leben)
Schirmer & Mosel, Germany

Selected Solo Exhibitions

2006 - Scrapbook – Fondation Henri Cartier-Bresson, Paris, France
De qui s’agit-il ? – Bibliothèque Nationale de France, Paris, France;
Fundacion Caixa, Barcelona, Spain; Martin Gropius-Bau, Berlin, Germany;
Scottish National Gallery Edinburgh, UK
Henri Cartier-Bresson Portraits: Tête à Tête – National Portrait Gallery, London,
UK; Scottish National Gallery, Edinburgh, UK;
National Portrait Gallery, Washington D.C., USA
Des Européens – Maison européenne de la Photographie, Paris, France;
Hayward Gallery, London, UK; Le Botanique, Bruxelles, Belgium;
Museo della Fotografia Storica; Torino, Italy; Kunsthalle, Düsseldorf, Germany;
Louisiana Museum, Copenhagen, Danmark, Art Museum Helsinki City, Helsinki,
1996 - Carnets mexicains de Henri Cartier-Bresson – Centre National de la Photographie,
Paris, France
1994 - Hommage to Henri Cartier-Bresson – ICP, New York, USA
1991 - Henri Cartier-Bresson – Osaka University of Arts, Osaka, Japan
1987 - Henri Cartier-Bresson: The Early Work – The Museum of Modern Art, New York,
Henri Cartier-Bresson en Inde – CNP, Palais de Tokyo, Paris, France;
Musée de l’Elysée, Lausanne, Switzerland; ICP, New York, USA;
National Gallery of Modern Art, New Delhi, India
Photographs by Henri Cartier-Bresson from Mexico, 1934 and 1963 –
Art Museum of South Texas, Corpus Christi, USA;
Center for Creative Photography, Tucson, USA
1984 - Paris à vue d’oeil – Musée Carnavalet, Paris, France
1980 - Henri Cartier-Bresson: 300 photographies de 1927 à 1980 –
Musée d’Art moderne de la Ville de Paris, Paris, France
Henri Cartier-Bresson Photographer, ICP, New York, USA; The Art Institute,
Chicago, USA; Carnegie Institute, Pittsburgh, USA; Virginia Museum of Fine Arts,
Richmond, USA, Palacio de Bellas Artes, Mexico City, Mexico;
Seattle Art Museum, Seattle, USA


1986 - Novecento Premio
1981 - Grand Prix National de la Photographie
1975 - Deutsche Gesellschaft für Photographie
1975 - Culture Prize
1964 - Overseas Press Club of America Award
1960 - Overseas Press Club of America Award
1959 - Prix de la Société Française de Photographie
1954 - Overseas Press Club of America Award
1953 - A.S.M.P. Award
1948 - Overseas Press Club of America Award


Bibliothèque Nationale de France, Paris, France
De Menil Collection, Houston, USA
University of Fine Arts, Osaka, Japan
Victoria & Albert Museum, London, UK
Maison Européenne de la Photographie, Paris, France
Musée Carnavalet, Paris, France
The Museum of Modern Art, New York, USA
The Art Institute of Chicago, USA
The Getty Museum, Los Angeles, USA
International Center of Photography, New York, USA
The Philadelphia Art Institute, Philadelphia, USA
The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, USA
Kahitsukan Kyoto Museum of Contemporary Art, Kyoto, Japan
Museum of Modern Art, Tel Aviv, Israel
Stockholm Modern Museum, Stockholm, Sweden

Books from Henri CARTIER-BRESSON

Magnum Analog Recovery


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