Henri Cartier-Bresson

"To take a photograph is to align the head, the eye and the heart. It's a way of life"

- Henri Cartier-Bresson

b. 1908

d. 2004


Founding member

Born in Chanteloup-en-Brie, Seine-et-Marne, Henri Cartier-Bresson developed a strong fascination with painting early on, and particularly with Surrealism. In 1932, after spending a year in the Ivory Coast, he discovered the Leica – his camera of choice after that moment – and began a life-long passion for photography. In 1933, he had his first exhibition at the Julien Levy Gallery in New York. He later made films with Jean Renoir.
Taken prisoner of war in 1940, he escaped on his third attempt in 1943 and subsequently joined an underground organization to assist prisoners and escapees. In 1945, he photographed the liberation of Paris with a group of professional journalists and then filmed the documentary Le Retour (The Return).
In 1947, with Robert Capa, George Rodger, David ‘Chim’ Seymour and William Vandivert, he founded Magnum Photos. After three years he had spent travelling in the East, in 1952, he returned to Europe, where he published his first book, Images à la Sauvette (published in English as The Decisive Moment). He explained his approach to photography in these terms, ‘”For me the camera is a sketch book, an instrument of intuition and spontaneity, the master of the instant which, in visual terms, questions and decides simultaneously. It is by economy of means that one arrives at simplicity of expression.”
From 1968, he began to curtail his photographic activities, preferring to concentrate on drawing and painting. In 2003, with his wife and daughter, he created the Fondation Henri Cartier-Bresson in Paris for the preservation of his work. Cartier-Bresson received an extraordinary number of prizes, awards, and honorary doctorates. He died at his home in Provence on 3 August 2004, a few weeks short of his 96th birthday.


1986 Novecento Premio
1981 Grand Prix National de la Photographie
1975 Deutsche Gesellschaft für Photographie
1975 Culture Prize
1964 Overseas Press Club of America Award
1960 Overseas Press Club of America Award
1959 Prix de la Société Française de Photographie
1954 Overseas Press Club of America Award
1953 A.S.M.P. Award
1948 Overseas Press Club of America Award


2006 Scrapbook – Fondation Henri Cartier-Bresson, Paris, France
2003/05 De qui s’agit-il ? – Bibliothèque Nationale de France, Paris, France;
Fundacion Caixa, Barcelona, Spain; Martin Gropius-Bau, Berlin, Germany;
Scottish National Gallery Edinburgh, UK
1998/00 Henri Cartier-Bresson Portraits: Tête à Tête – National Portrait Gallery, London,
UK; Scottish National Gallery, Edinburgh, UK;
National Portrait Gallery, Washington D.C., USA
1997/99 Des Européens – Maison européenne de la Photographie, Paris, France;
Hayward Gallery, London, UK; Le Botanique, Bruxelles, Belgium;
Museo della Fotografia Storica; Torino, Italy; Kunsthalle, Düsseldorf, Germany;
Louisiana Museum, Copenhagen, Danmark, Art Museum Helsinki City, Helsinki,
1996 Carnets mexicains de Henri Cartier-Bresson – Centre National de la Photographie,
Paris, France
1994 Hommage to Henri Cartier-Bresson – ICP, New York, USA
1991 Henri Cartier-Bresson – Osaka University of Arts, Osaka, Japan
1987 Henri Cartier-Bresson: The Early Work – The Museum of Modern Art, New York,
1985/88 Henri Cartier-Bresson en Inde – CNP, Palais de Tokyo, Paris, France;
Musée de l’Elysée, Lausanne, Switzerland; ICP, New York, USA;
National Gallery of Modern Art, New Delhi, India
1984/85 Photographs by Henri Cartier-Bresson from Mexico, 1934 and 1963 –
Art Museum of South Texas, Corpus Christi, USA;
Center for Creative Photography, Tucson, USA
1984 Paris à vue d’oeil – Musée Carnavalet, Paris, France
1980 Henri Cartier-Bresson: 300 photographies de 1927 à 1980 –
Musée d’Art moderne de la Ville de Paris, Paris, France
1979/80 Henri Cartier-Bresson Photographer, ICP, New York, USA; The Art Institute,
Chicago, USA; Carnegie Institute, Pittsburgh, USA; Virginia Museum of Fine Arts,
Richmond, USA, Palacio de Bellas Artes, Mexico City, Mexico;
Seattle Art Museum, Seattle, USA
1978 Cartier-Bresson: Archival Collection – Osaka University of Arts, Osaka
1976 Selected Photographs by Henri Cartier-Bresson – The National Gallery
of Modern Art, New Delhi, India
1974 A propos de l’URSS 1953-1974 – ICP, New York, USA
1970 Henri Cartier-Bresson: En France – Galeries nationales du Grand Palais, Paris
1969 Photographs by Henri Cartier-Bresson – Victoria & Albert Museum, London, UK;
Graves Art Gallery, Sheffield, UK; City Art Gallery, York, UK;
City Art Gallery, Leeds, UK; Museum of Modern Art, Oxford, UK
1968 Cartier-Bresson: Recent photographs – The Museum of Modern Art,
New York, USA
1966 Photographies d’Henri Cartier-Bresson – Musée des Arts Décoratifs,
Paris, France; Villa Comunale, Milano, Italy; Kunsthalle Köln, Germany
1966 After The Decisive Moment 1966-1967 – Asahi Shimbun, Tokyo, Japan
1964 Photographs by Cartier-Bresson – The Phillips Collection, Washington D.C., USA
1957/60 Henri Cartier-Bresson: The Decisive Moment (same exhibition than in 1955/56) –
R.B.A Gallery, London, UK; Nihombashi Takashimaya, Tokyo, Japan;
M.H. de Young Memorial Museum, San Francisco, USA, IBM Gallery,
New York, USA,
1955/56 Henri Cartier-Bresson: Photographies 1930-1955 – Musée des Arts Décoratifs,
Pavillon de Marsan, Paris, France; Kunstgewerbemuseum, Zürich, Switzerland;
Stadtisches Museum, Leverkusen, Germany; Kunstverein München, Munich,
Germany; Bremer Kunsthalle, Bremen, Germany; Staatliche Landesbildstelle
Museum, Hamburg, Germany; Palazzo della Societa per le belli Arti, Milano,
Italy; Circolo della Provincia, Bologna, Italy
1953 Great Documentary Photographer: Henri Cartier-Bresson – The Art Institute
of Chicago, Chicago, USA
1952 215 fotografie de Henri Cartier-Bresson – Strozzina di Firenze, Firenze, Italy
1952 Photographs by Henri Cartier-Bresson – Institute of Contemporary Arts, London,
1947 The Photographs of Henri Cartier-Bresson – The Museum of Modern Art, New York,
1935 Fotografias: Cartier-Bresson, Alvarez Bravo – Palacio de Bellas Artes de Mexico,
Mexico City, Mexico
1935 Documentary & Anti-Graphic Photography – Photographs by Cartier-Bresson
Walker Evans & Manuel Alvarez Bravo – Julien Levy Gallery, New York, USA;
1933 Photographs by Henri Cartier-Bresson and an exhibition of
Anti-Graphic Photography – Julien Levy Gallery, New York, USA;
Ateneo Club, Madrid, Spain


Bibliothèque Nationale de France, Paris, France
De Menil Collection, Houston, USA
University of Fine Arts, Osaka, Japan
Victoria & Albert Museum, London, UK
Maison Européenne de la Photographie, Paris, France
Musée Carnavalet, Paris, France
The Museum of Modern Art, New York, USA
The Art Institute of Chicago, USA
The Getty Museum, Los Angeles, USA
International Center of Photography, New York, USA
The Philadelphia Art Institute, Philadelphia, USA
The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, USA
Kahitsukan Kyoto Museum of Contemporary Art, Kyoto, Japan
Museum of Modern Art, Tel Aviv, Israel
Stockholm Modern Museum, Stockholm, Sweden


2006 Scrapbook, Steidl, Germany
2006 Portraits par Henri Cartier-Bresson, Thames & Hudson, France;
(The portraits of Henri Cartier-Bresson) Thames & Hudson, UK
2003 De qui s’agit-il ?, Gallimard/Bibliothèque Nationale de France;
(The Man, the Image and the World) Thames & Hudson, UK;
(Di chi si tratta ?) Contrasto, Italy
2001 Paysages, Delpire éditeur; (Landscape Townscape) Thames & Hudson, UK;
(City and Landscapes) Bulfinch, USA; (Paesaggi) Contrasto, Italy;
(Landschaften und Städte) Schirmer & Mosel, Germany
1998 Tête à Tête, Gallimard, France; Thames & Hudson, UK;
Bulfinch, USA; Schirmer & Mosel, Germany;
Leonardo Arte, Italy
1997/98 Des Européens, Le Seuil, France; (Europeans) Thames & Hudson, UK;
Bulfinch, USA; (Europaër) Schirmer & Mosel, Germany;
(Gli Europei) Peliti Associati, Italy
1996/99 L’Imaginaire d’Après Nature, Fata Morgana, France; (The Mind’s eye)
Aperture, USA
1995 Carnets mexicains 1934-1964, Hazan, France;
(Mexican Notebooks 1934-1964) Thames & Hudson, UK;
(Henri Cartier-Bresson Messico 1934-1964) Federico Motta Editore, Italy
1995 L’Art Sans Art, Flammarion, France; (Henri Cartier-Bresson and the Artless Art)
Thames & Hudson, UK;
Bulfinch, USA; (Henri Cartier-Bresson Seine Kunst Sein Leben)
Schirmer & Mosel, Germany
1994 Double Regard. Drawings and Photographs, Le Nyctalope, France
1994 Paris à vue d’oeil, Le Seuil, France; (A Propos de Paris) Thames & Hudson,
UK; Bulfinch, USA; Schirmer & Mosel, Germany
1991 Alberto Giacometti photographié par Henri Cartier-Bresson, Franco Sciardelli,
1991 L’Amérique Furtivement, Le Seuil, France; (America in Passing) Bulfinch, USA;
Thames & Hudson, UK, Schirmer & Mosel, Germany;
Federico Motta Editore, Italy
1991 Henri Cartier-Bresson – Premières photos: de l’objectif hasardeux au hasard
objectif, Arthaud, France
1989 L’Autre Chine, Centre National de la Photographie, France
1989 Trait pour trait, Arthaud, France; (Line by Line: Henri Cartier-Bresson’s Drawings)
Thames & Hudson, UK, Schirmer & Mosel, Germany
1987 Henri Cartier-Bresson in India, Thames & Hudson, UK, USA
1987 Henri Cartier-Bresson – The Early Work, The Museum of Modern Art, New York, USA
1985 Photoportraits, Gallimard, France; Thames & Hudson, UK, USA;
Schirmer & Mosel, Germany
1985 Henri Cartier-Bresson en Inde, Centre National de la Photographie, France
1983 Henri Cartier-Bresson: Ritratti 1928-1982 (Collection “I Grandi Fotografi”),
Gruppo Editoriale Fabbri, Italy
1982 Photo Poche, Centre National de la Photographie, France
1979 Henri Cartier-Bresson: Photographe, Delpire éditeur, France;
(Henri Cartier-Bresson: Photographer) Bulfinch, USA;
Thames & Hudson, UK;
Pacific Press Service, Japan
1973 A propos de l’URSS, éditions du Chêne, France; (About Russia)
Thames & Hudson, UK; Viking Press, USA
1972 The Face of Asia, John Weatherhill, USA & Japan; Orientations Ltd.,
Hong Kong; (Visage d’Asie) éditions du Chêne, France
1970 Vive la France, Robert Laffont, France; (Cartier-Bresson’s France)
Thames & Hudson, UK; Viking Press, USA
1969 L’homme et la machine, commissioned by IBM, éditions du Chêne, France;
(Man and Machine) Viking Press, USA; Thames & Hudson, UK
1969 Les Français, éditions Rencontre, Switzerland
1968 Flagrants délits – Photographies de Henri Cartier-Bresson, Delpire éditeur,
France; (The World of Henri Cartier-Bresson) Viking Press, USA
1963 China as photographed by Henri Cartier-Bresson, Bantam Books, USA
1963 Photographies de Henri Cartier-Bresson, Delpire éditeur, France;
(Photographs by Henri Cartier-Bresson) Grossman Publishers, USA;
Jonathan Cape, GB; Asahi Shimbun, Japan
1958 Henri Cartier-Bresson: Fotografie, Statni Nakladatelstvi
Krasné, Czechoslovakia
1955 Les Européens, Verve, France; (The Europeans) Simon & Schuster, USA
1955 Moscou vu par Henri Cartier-Bresson, Delpire Editeur, France; (People of Moscow)
Thames & Hudson, UK; Simon & Schuster, USA
1954/56 D’une Chine à l’autre, Delpire éditeur, France; (China in Transition)
Thames & Hudson, UK; (From One China to Another) Universe, USA
1954 Les Danses à Bali, Delpire éditeur, France
1952 Images à la Sauvette, Verve, France; (The Decisive Moment) Simon & Schuster,
1947 The Photographs of Henri Cartier-Bresson, The Museum of Modern Art, USA


1969/70 Impressions of California, 23′, color
1969/70 Southern Exposures, 22′, color
1944/45 Le Retour (The Return), 32′, b&w
1939 La Règle du Jeu (The Rules of the Game), assistant to Jean Renoir
1938 L’Espagne vivra, 43′, b&w
1937 Victoire de la Vie (with Herbert Kline), 49′, b&w
1936 Une Partie de Campagne, second Assistant to Jean Renoir

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Selected works


America In Passing

Henri Cartier-Bresson

Bringing together decades worth of assignments Henri Cartier-Bresson's book shows the rich diversity of the USA capturing all walks of American life

Open story
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