Aug 20, 2007

Quartier de la Chapelle, Paris

Quartier de la Chapelle, Paris

1928 or 1929 (printed c. 1940s)

Henri Cartier-Bresson

(French, 1908–2004)

Gelatin silver print

Image: 25.3 x 17.4 cm (9 15/16 x 6 7/8 in.)

John L. Severance Fund 1991.244



This ambiguous scene of a pedestrian passing a man sprawled on a sidewalk is a striking example of Henri Cartier-Bresson's genius at selecting the "decisive moment." With a small hand-held camera and an uncanny sense of timing, he was able to anticipate the fraction of a second before a scene in front of him resolved into a balanced, meaningful composition that he could capture on film. Cartier-Bresson once said: "Photography is the simultaneous recognition, in a fraction of a second, of the significance of an event as well as of a precise organization of forms which give the event its proper expression."

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