Henri Cartier-Bresson (1908-2004)

Georges Seurat, Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte, 1884-1886, Oil on canvas, 81 x 120 in, Art Institute of Chicago.

Seurat's painstaking masterpiece, wrought in thousands of pixels of primary-color oils, deftly depicted a seemingly instantaneous moment via a composition of arduous precision and control.

Cartier-Bresson did not envision his compositions in his mind, but found them in their natural state -- in a true instantaneous moment. Let him explain his art in his own words:

Henri Cartier-Bresson, On the Banks of Marne, 1938, gelatin silver print, cm 30 x 40, Fondation Henri Cartier-Bresson. (Photograph was taken with Leica M3 rangefinder, 50mm lens on 35mm film.)

"The 'decisive moment' is the simultaneous recognition, in a fraction of a second, of the significance of an event as well as the precise organization of forms which gives that event its proper expression."

"Photography is an instantaneous operation, both sensory and intellectual -- an expression of the world in visual terms, and also a perpetual quest and interrogation. It is at one and the same time the recognition of a fact in a fraction of a second and the rigorous arrangement of the forms visually perceived which give to that fact expression and significance."

-- Henri Cartier-Bresson, The Decisive Moment  

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