Henri Cartier-Bresson: Europeans
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Photography has developed as one of the few genuinely new artistic forms of the modern age, and without any doubt one of its masters is Henri Cartier-Bresson. As a result the work of the French master of the lens has come to define the modern world itself. His career straddles the 20th century, both historically and geographically. America in Passing has already offered Cartier-Bresson's unique angle on America, whilst Henri-Cartier-Bresson in India rivals Don McCullin's India as a hypnotic series of photo-essays on the Indian subcontinent. Cartier-Bresson's latest compilation of photographs, Europeans, offers an astonishing panorama of the continent which has shaped the French photographer's career, from the hope of 1930s Republican Spain to the poverty and anonymity of Russia and Romania in the 1970s. What is particularly extraordinary about Europeans is not just its geographical and historical range, but also its photographic variety. The images range from beautiful landscape photos of the Alto Douro and Torcello in the 1950s to scenes of intimate and violent urbanity in Naples and Paris in the 1960s. What makes Cartier-Bresson such a master of photography appears again and again in the collection--mastery of light, tone and composition, matched with an ability to capture extraordinary moments in the life of a continent, from the liberation of Paris to a glance exchanged on a Moscow street. If there is one book of photographs to define what it means to live in 20th-century Europe, it is surely this; an instant classic. -- Jerry Brotton Synopsis In 1955, Henri Cartier-Bresson published "The Europeans", a portrait of the continent documenting a landscape shadowed by the war. In this book, the photographer brings together images spanning the years from the late 1920s to the early 1970s. He has travelled across Europe, from the Scandinavian shield to the Irish bogs, in order to capture what it means to be European. Beyond nationalism and the particular characteristics of each culture and nation, he has found evidence of a greater identity, a likeness shared by the people and the landscape. His photographs seek to speak of the same daily ceremony, of the ongoing business of living for people across Europe, whether Polish priests in alb or cassock, or Abruzzi peasants shrouded in the black of their cloaks and hats.
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