The Geometry of the Moment
Kunstmuseum, Photography, Wolfsburg, Germany
Saturday September 3, 2011 - Sunday May 13, 2012 - Event ended.
After exhibitions devoted to Brassaï, Lee Miller and Edward Steichen, the Kunstmuseum Wolfsburg now continues its series with a further pioneering exponent of modern photography. The French photographer Henri Cartier-Bresson (1908–2004) used an ordinary Leica viewfinder camera on his numerous travels around the world which enabled him to select the right detail and capture the decisive moment within seconds. He described his method of attaining precisely composed photographs with the words: “To take a photograph is to align the head, the eye and the heart.”
The exhibition which was made possible through the cooperation with Magnum Photos in Paris features about 100 works selected by the photographer himself. The black-and-white landscape pictures taken between 1933 and 1999 reveal the extent to which Cartier-Bresson’s work was inspired by the fundamentals of Far Eastern philosophy. The selection is supplemented by seven rare lithographs made available by his widow Martine Franck exclusively for this exhibition from her own private collection.
Henri Cartier-Bresson was the acknowledged ‘master of the moment’. With this presentation of around 100 photographs and 7 drawings by the renowned French artist, the Kunstmuseum Wolfsburg is featuring another pioneering figure in its series of “Great Modernist Photographers”, which has to date included Brassaï, Lee Miller and Edward Steichen. Born in a suburb of Paris in 1908, Henri Cartier-Bresson’s photographic career began in 1930 and continued until 1972, when he decided to concentrate all his energies on drawing. After escaping from a German prisoner-of-war camp in 1943 he joined the French Resistance, and in 1947 he co-founded the now world-famous Magnum photo agency with four colleagues. On his extensive travels around the world Cartier-Bresson always worked with an unobtrusive Leica rangefinder camera that enabled him to select the right shot within a fraction of a second and capture the “decisive moment”. His modest use of technical equipment and characteristic artistic method are particularly impressive for their monastic simplicity. With the relaxed concentration of a Zen archer, Cartier-Bresson successfully aligned the head, eye and heart to create carefully composed images that combine the spontaneity of the moment with timeless validity.
Following the major survey exhibition held in Berlin in 2003, the Wolfsburg show examines this particular aspect of Cartier-Bresson’s work on the basis of a selection of photographs compiled by the artist himself (who died in 2004) under the heading of Paysages (Landscapes). Cartier-Bresson’s wife and fellow photographer Martine Franck has generously agreed to lend a rare group of his drawings from her private collection. "Henri Cartier-Bresson. The Geometry of the Moment" has been organized in cooperation with the photographic agency Magnum Paris and takes up themes from previous exhibitions at the Kunstmuseum such as "Japan and the West. Fulfilled Emptiness", "The Wolfsburg Project" by James Turrell, and the Alberto Giacometti retrospective "The Origin of Space". At the same time it complements the large-scale thematic exhibition "The Art of Deceleration. Motion and Rest in Art from Caspar David Friedrich to Ai Weiwei", which is being shown in the central hall from 5 November 2011 to 9 April 2012.
© Henri Cartier-Bresson /Magnum Photos
FRANCE. Paris. Place de l'Europe. Gare Saint Lazare. 1932.