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Author Topic: Henri Cartier-Bresson: Living and Looking  (Read 6294 times)
nemo295
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« on: June 21, 2013, 03:58:39 PM »
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Here's an interesting 2-part interview with Cartier-Bresson, conducted in 1971 by Sheila Turner-Seed. It has remained unpublished until now.

A couple of highlights for me: he calls color photography "disgusting" and he thinks that it's ridiculous for photographers to number their prints.

http://lens.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/06/20/henri-cartier-bresson-living-and-looking/

http://lens.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/06/21/cartier-bresson-there-are-no-maybes/
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« Reply #1 on: June 21, 2013, 08:40:09 PM »
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Thanks, Doug. It's a very interesting couple of interviews in which Henri reiterates what he's written in books like Images la sauvette. He always was clear about his opinions on color photography. And his flat statement about the absurdity of numbering photographic prints is exactly what I'd expect him to say. If you check my primary web site you'll see it's something I've been saying for a long time -- to the annoyance of some gallery people and other photographers.

Henri was one of the finest artists of the twentieth century, and certainly the most influential photographer of the century. Ansel did some good work, but as far as the history of the art is concerned, next to Henri Ansel's a footnote.
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nemo295
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« Reply #2 on: June 22, 2013, 01:02:34 AM »
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I think you're comparing apples to oranges regarding Ansel and Henri, Russ. Both were hugely influential in their respective genres. I wouldn't knock either one.
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Rob C
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« Reply #3 on: June 22, 2013, 03:08:58 AM »
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I don't think so Doug; there's a level of reputation that transcends category or genre within photography, and I think HC-B is closer to the top of that listing.

It doesn't even correspond to wealth from photography: Avedon must have out-earned him a zillion times, and Penn and Watson too, but the latter two are not the first reputations that spring to mind when great snappers are mentioned. In fact, Adams and similar are pretty far down the list, as are most landscape people, almost entirely unknown outwith the faithful fold, as I said. You have to be a photographer to know about them, pretty much.

I think HC-B has captured the popular, world imagination where the latter people are only famous within the fraternity.

Rob C


P.S. Can't open either link!
« Last Edit: June 22, 2013, 03:15:04 AM by Rob C » Logged

AFairley
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« Reply #4 on: June 22, 2013, 11:08:04 AM »
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Thanks for the link, Doug, good read.
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Slobodan Blagojevic
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« Reply #5 on: June 22, 2013, 11:43:57 AM »
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Rob and Russ,

What yardstick (other than your personal opinion) you use to judge the relative superiority of HCB vs. AA? Are there any published polls as to their respective popularity "outside the faithful fold"? Which one had more impact on the world around them (excluding boosting Leica sales)?

The way I see HCB is a renegade bourgeois, bored, and preoccupied with his own inner world of peculiar moments. Ah, look, a guy jumps over the puddle! So big freakin' what? The worlds around him fall apart, with all the human joy and suffering, while he happily indulges his inner sense of geometry.

Nice to occasionally look at, chuckle even for a split second, but importance of historic proportions... give me a break!

There, I said it.

P.S. You can tell I've been defending KR lately - his style starting to rub off on me... Or maybe we are just kindred spirits Wink
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« Reply #6 on: June 22, 2013, 12:08:51 PM »
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Rob and Russ,


The way I see HCB is a renegade bourgeois, bored, and preoccupied with his own inner world of peculiar moments. Ah, look, a guy jumps over the puddle! So big freakin' what? The worlds around him fall apart, with all the human joy and suffering, while he (happily indulges his inner sense of geometry).


The very definition of an Artist!
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Slobodan Blagojevic
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« Reply #7 on: June 22, 2013, 12:26:13 PM »
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The very definition of an Artist!

The definition of an artist (no capital A, sorry) perhaps, but hardly enough for the definition of a great artist. Great artists have a certain impact on humanity, if only for later generations, on how we see the world. Yes, Edvard Munch, for instance, expressed his inner world too (like all artists), but that resonates with the rest of humanity almost universally, across cultural or geographical borders. In that respect, HCB could perhaps hope for an obscure artist status at best.
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Slobodan

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nemo295
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« Reply #8 on: June 22, 2013, 12:30:43 PM »
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In fact, Adams and similar are pretty far down the list, as are most landscape people, almost entirely unknown outwith the faithful fold, as I said. You have to be a photographer to know about them, pretty much.

LOL!!! Adams was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom. He was honored with a Doctorate of Arts from Harvard and Yale. He's been the subject of numerous documentaries and authored dozens of books. His work is in every major museum collection of photography on the planet. He has a goddamn mountain named after him!

I think one or two people outside of the "faithful fold" may have noticed him, Rob.   Cheesy Cheesy Cheesy
« Last Edit: June 22, 2013, 12:39:16 PM by Doug Frost » Logged
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« Reply #9 on: June 22, 2013, 12:46:01 PM »
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Hi Slobodan,

For a "yardstick," try any current book on the history of photography.

What both Ansel and Edward Weston did was break away from the pictorialists and make "straight" photographs that were tack sharp and specific. Both men spent most of their time shooting rocks and vegetables. Both also shot people, but the people were posed. Both, for the most part, used view cameras on stands. Neither of them did anything really new. They just did things better.

Henri, on the other hand, grabbed the smallest camera around and began shooting people unposed. He did do a series of portraits, of which, in my estimation at least, his Ezra Pound was top of the heap, though his incredible snapshot of the Curies certainly ranks near the top, but street photography was his main thing. It's true that Andre Kertesz also did street photography with a small camera, but Andre didn't cover the world the way Henri did. It's interesting to read how many great photographers of the twentieth century single out Henri as a significant influence, among them Evans, Frank, Winogrand, Friedlander, and Leibovitz, to name just a few.

Now, notice that I said Henri was the "most influential" photographer of the twentieth century, not that he was the "best" photographer of the twentieth century. If we want to talk about "best," I'd have to make a pretty strong case that Gene Smith holds that title. But influential? That's Henri. The thing he taught other photographers was how to go with the flow and not try to put thoughts into photographs, to react rather than plan. It's something most of our contemporaries behind their cameras never learn. 
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« Reply #10 on: June 22, 2013, 12:59:54 PM »
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LOL!!! Adams was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom. He was honored with a Doctorate of Arts from Harvard and Yale. He's been the subject of numerous documentaries and authored dozens of books. His work is in every major museum collection of photography on the planet. He has a goddamn mountain named after him!

I think one or two people outside of the "faithful fold" may have noticed him, Rob.   Cheesy Cheesy Cheesy

A Presidential Medal? Wow! A Doctorate of Arts? Wow! From Harvard? Wow! A mountain named after him? Wow! I'm terribly impressed (even though one of my brothers-in-law has a mountain named after him).

Ansel made pictures that look good on walls. Most museums like pictures that look good on walls. For the most part, Henri didn't do that. He made pictures of human behavior that taught us things about human nature, and also, as time marches on, something about history. Ansel didn't do that. He made pictures of rocks and trees.

LOL!!!
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« Reply #11 on: June 22, 2013, 01:02:27 PM »
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The definition of an artist (no capital A, sorry) perhaps, but hardly enough for the definition of a great artist. Great artists have a certain impact on humanity, if only for later generations, on how we see the world. Yes, Edvard Munch, for instance, expressed his inner world too (like all artists), but that resonates with the rest of humanity almost universally, across cultural or geographical borders. In that respect, HCB could perhaps hope for an obscure artist status at best.


Thank the Lord, this but an opinion.

Peter
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Slobodan Blagojevic
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« Reply #12 on: June 22, 2013, 01:04:09 PM »
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...It's interesting to read how many great photographers of the twentieth century single out Henri as a significant influence, among them Evans, Frank, Winogrand, Friedlander, and Leibovitz, to name just a few...

He might influenced them, but I could't care less about any of them, nor about the whole genre of street photography. As you can guess, I do not belong to the "faithful fold."

I was talking about their perceived importance among general public, not cult followers.
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Slobodan

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nemo295
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« Reply #13 on: June 22, 2013, 01:12:08 PM »
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A Presidential Medal? Wow! A Doctorate of Arts? Wow! From Harvard? Wow! A mountain named after him? Wow! I'm terribly impressed (even though one of my brothers-in-law has a mountain named after him).

Ansel made pictures that look good on walls. Most museums like pictures that look good on walls. For the most part, Henri didn't do that. He made pictures of human behavior that taught us things about human nature, and also, as time marches on, something about history. Ansel didn't do that. He made pictures of rocks and trees.

Oh come on, Russ. Stop pretending like none of those things matter. Of course they do. Dismissing things out of hand just because you don't like them is the lazy way out.

There's no point in trying to argue who's better than whom. It's all one's own opinion. The objective fact is that both Adams and HCB were important artists. But they were also very different artists.

Obviously, landscape photographers are going to respond more to Adams's work and street photographers are going to gravitate to HCB.

There's room enough for both on this bus, Russ.
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Slobodan Blagojevic
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« Reply #14 on: June 22, 2013, 01:15:43 PM »
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Thank the Lord, this but an opinion.

Peter

So, show me the facts then. That one is "popular word-wide," beyond the fraternity, as Rob claims, an the other is "just a footnote in art history," as Russ claims.
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Slobodan

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« Reply #15 on: June 22, 2013, 01:37:19 PM »
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So, show me the facts then. That one is "popular word-wide," beyond the fraternity, as Rob claims, an the other is "just a footnote in art history," as Russ claims.

As an artist this is my opinion. That is all that is necessary for my needs. How he influences the rest of the world, that another issue. What I draw from his work, he qualifies to be called an ARTIST. All caps in my world.

Peter

ps   Art is not about fact. If one needs to question that, one needs to better understand what Art is.

Peter
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Slobodan Blagojevic
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« Reply #16 on: June 22, 2013, 01:53:53 PM »
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...ps   Art is not about fact. If one needs to question that, one needs to better understand what Art is...

And exactly where did I question that? Or where did I question your perception who is artist? I questioned instead the claim that one is more popular/influential/significant outside of the respective "fraternity."
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Slobodan

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« Reply #17 on: June 22, 2013, 03:03:18 PM »
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As you can guess, I do not belong to the "faithful fold."

Looks as if you belong to the Ansel faithful fold, Slobodan. Good thing. Accepting the significance of Ansel's work requires a lot of faith.
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« Reply #18 on: June 22, 2013, 03:58:01 PM »
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Oh come on, Russ. Stop pretending like none of those things matter. Of course they do.

You're right, Doug. Things like that matter a lot to the people who receive such honors, but they haven't much to do with an artist's achievements as an artist. Art has to stand on its own without reference to the artist. Ansel's pictures hang on the wall. Henri's pictures enlighten us. Ansel made beautiful art. Henri made significant art. There's a difference -- a significant difference.
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« Reply #19 on: June 22, 2013, 04:00:45 PM »
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You're right, Doug. Things like that matter a lot to the people who receive such honors, but they haven't much to do with an artist's achievements as an artist. Art has to stand on its own without reference to the artist. Ansel's pictures hang on the wall. Henri's pictures enlighten us. Ansel made beautiful art. Henri made significant art. There's a difference -- a significant difference.

Henri's pictures enlighten you, not everyone. There's a difference, a significant difference.
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