August 22, in 1908 (died in 2004) has been called "greatest photographer of the twentieth century" and "father of photojournalism". A pioneer of shooting photographs in the 35 mm format, his career spanned more than sixty years.
Cartier-Bresson recorded the drama of his era's news stories best by often choosing to focus his lens away from the main event and towards ordinary people, catching their reactions. He produced iconic portraits of notable personalities such as Matisse, Picasso, Coco Chanel, Truman Capote and Gandhi; but his portraits of unknown characters often prove far more intriguing, their fleeting emotion captured for ever by his gifted eye, aided by a camera lens. He also made films with Jean Renoir and others, and a 1937 documentary on Republican Spain; he co-founded the photographic cooperative, Magnum. During the Second World War, he was captured by Germans; after two attempts, he escaped in February 1943. Throughout his long career as photographer he travelled widely, recording diversity of life all over the world. In 1975, twenty-nine years before he died he abandoned photography and turned his attention to drawing and painting. (For a piece on this see Artes Magazine HERE)
The photographer's own words from his book The Mind's Eye:
"To take photographs means to recognize -- simultaneously and within a fraction of a second -- both the fact itself and the rigorous organization of visually perceived forms that give it meaning."He was an artist in every sense of the word, his main tool, not a brush or pencil (though he wielded both at times) but a camera.
"A velvet hand, a hawk's eye - these we should all have."
I haven't been able to glean much information about Henri Cartier-Bresson's personality. In the video at the end of this post he admits to being very impulsive. He appears to have been something of a romantic - had an intense affair with the wife of an American ex-patriate, Harry Crosby. Crosby said of him that he "looked like a fledgling, shy and frail, and mild as whey." He married twice, was described by one of many biographers, Pierre Assouline, briefly thus:
"His taste was classical: he needed that kind of order to counter the vulgarity of the world outside" & "In affairs of the heart, he was a seductive romantic."Wikipedia's page on Henri Cartier-Bresson and a fairly brief piece at Bio.com give further detail of his life and career.
A look at his natal chart, then at a few of his many photographs.
Henri Cartier-Bresson born on 22 August 1908 in Chanteloup-en-Brie, France, at 2:51 PM (Astrodatabank AA)
Astrologically, Neptune is said to represent photography. Here we have Neptune conjunct Venus (planet of the arts) and Moon (inner emotional self) all in emotionally- sensitive Cancer - what better signature for a great photographer?
Another cluster, or stellium, in Leo/Virgo involves Sun, Mars, Jupiter and Mercury. This cluster represents his driving force, the engine sending him around the world (Jupiter), the energy and enthusiasm for it all (Mars), and the ability to communicate his thoughts with photographic precision (Mercury).
Two sides - both essential to his art.
Outside the two clusters are Saturn and Uranus, in Aries and Capricorn respectively. Uranus, from Capricorn, opposes Neptune/Venus/Moon, challenging that emotionally sensitive group to be business-like and forward looking - he used best new technology available.
Saturn, from Aries, squares Uranus as well as Neptune/Venus/Moon. I'm not sure how to interpret this. Saturn represents limitation, reality, keeping feet on ground - that kind of thing. Perhaps Saturn is controlling what might otherwise have been an airy-fairy mess of emotional pourings, into something practical: a set of photographs to be appreciated over time, for centuries. Saturn likes that kind of thing.
The T-square - that red triangle - it pulls together the opposition and squares I've mentioned. In some cases such a configuration might be difficult to handle - it doesn't seem to have hindered Henri Cartier-Bresson at all!
There are so many photographs of his, it was difficult to know which were most representative of HCB's work - so I chose a few which particularly appealed to me, for more photographs, there's an excellent slideshow at Magnum Photos HERE, and in the video below.
For sharper versions - better resolution - please click on images.
|La danse Alloeng Kotjok, Sayan, Bali, Indonésie.|
|New Year's Eve, NYC|
And, finally, HIGHLY RECOMMENDED a video featuring his photographs, narrated by the photographer himself:
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