Henri Cartier-Bresson: The Decisive Moment

23 May–2 September 2018

Exhibition Overview

Henri Cartier-Bresson, The Decisive Moment

Henri Cartier-Bresson: The Decisive Moment examines Cartier-Bresson’s influential publication, widely considered to be one of the most important photobooks of the twentieth century. Pioneering for its emphasis on the photograph itself as a unique narrative form, The Decisive Moment was described by Robert Capa as “a Bible for photographers.” Originally titled Images à la Sauvette (“images on the run”) in the French, the book was published in English with a new title, The Decisive Moment, which unintentionally imposed the motto which would define Cartier-Bresson’s work. The exhibition details how the decisions made by the collaborators in this major project—including Cartier-Bresson, French art publisher Tériade, American publisher Simon & Schuster, and Henri Matisse, who designed the book’s cover—have shaped our understanding of Cartier-Bresson’s photographs. Through vintage gelatin silver prints, first-edition publications, periodicals, and correspondence, Henri Cartier-Bresson: The Decisive Moment brings new insights to this iconic work.

(Henri Cartier-Bresson, The Decisive Moment (Simon & Schuster, 1952), p. 19-20, Sunday on the Banks of the Seine, France, 1938. © Henri Cartier-Bresson/Magnum Photos)

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