Henri Cartier-Bresson, Seville, 1933

“To take photographs is to hold one’s breath when all faculties converge in the face of fleeing reality. It is at that moment that mastering an image becomes a great physical and intellectual joy…

As far as I am concerned, taking photographs is a means of understanding which cannot be separated from other means of visual expression. It is a way of shouting, of freeing oneself, not of proving or asserting one’s own originality. It is a way of life.” — Henri Cartier-Bresson

Henri Cartier-Bresson’s Seville exemplifies his extraordinary skill at capturing the spontaneity, the mystery, the humor and the universality of the events that passed before him. In a career spanning more than sixty years, Cartier-Bresson’s camera served as his third eye, with which he captured the nuances of humanity and produced some of the most striking and insightful photographs ever published. Seville demonstrates the photographer’s ability to seek out and capture a fleeting moment in time that would have otherwise never bene documented. This photograph was later chosen by Andre Breton to illustrate an imaginary episode of the Spanish Civil War in his book L’Amour fou (Mad Love).

Born in 1908, Cartier-Bresson’s innate artistic ability was clear from a very young age. By his mid-twenties, he had already begun to shape and establish modern photography through his wildly imaginative photographs. After World War II, his talent for capturing lasting images from a world in perpetual motion made him a leading figure in professional photojournalism. He was one of the original founders of the influential agency, Magnum. By the end of his photographic career, he had created a comprehensive body of work completely unique in both its geographical scope and in its historical overview of the vast transformations of the modern century.

The photograph Seville was taken during Franco’s Civil War in Spain in an environment of partially destroyed, war-torn buildings. In this bleak theatre, Cartier-Bresson focuses on the joy and energy of children playing. He highlights the optimism of the human spirit as it transcends the pessimism of war. Cartier-Bresson is among the most important image makers with dozens and dozens of great photographers all looking back to his work for inspiration. His photographs have become icons of both great photography and the 20th-century cultural history.

 

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