“Watch the Henri Cartier-Bresson documentary ‘L’amour de court’ (‘Just plain love’, 2001) available in five parts on YouTube:
Write a personal response to the film in the contextual section of your learning log, taking care to reference properly any quotations you use (300–500 words).”
As I am not that familiar with Henri Cartier-Bresson, so in addition to watching the film, I also spent some time reading about his life and work, which helped me further understand the interview he gave. His images were beautifully composed and its easy to see how his style has had such a large influence.
He comes across as a chap who loved life and felt a connection with humanity as a whole. (Lets gloss over his fondness of brothels, which wasn’t quite as endearing – different era) This connection with humankind shows in his pictures, and I disagree with Gaby Wood’s comment that his work is “numbly impersonal”. They are elegant, they are beautifully composed and certainly artistic, but there is emotion contained within them. I take the point that they differ from a modern style of photography, they are not raw and edgy, the ‘spontaneity’ is carefully considered at times. However I simply feel he had an excellent eye and fully connected with the world around him.
Surely anything but impersonal?
Henri-Bresson, Paris 1955
I wonder if the concept of “The Decisive Moment” has been mythologised a little? Although his images capture a perfectly timed moment, he also used his excellent eye to spot the potential through his view finder, then shot several pictures in order to capture exactly the right composition. Its only common sense that he should have a selection of images to choose from. However, this was one of the first from his contact sheet!
Henri-Bresson, Seville 1933
It really intrigues me that he eventually abandoned photography to return to his first love, drawing. I believe its a strange irony that some people who are blessed with a certain talent do not like to fit the categories we want to impose upon them. However it seems unusual to simply give up the very thing you are famous for – for most talented people they simply cannot give up the thing they love, it drives them, defines them – surely they would experience a profound sense of loss to simply stop? But I can only guess that for Cartier-Bresson, he loved composition and that only the medium changed, not his creativity.