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 Henri Cartier-Bresson  (1908 - 2004)

/ CAHR-tee-yay BRE-sohn/
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Lived/Active: France      Known for: documentary photography, painting

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Ad Code: 3
AskART Artist
Behind Gare St. Lazare, gelatin silver print, 9.75" X 6.25", 1932, printed before 1947
Courtesy of the National Gallery of Canada
This biography from the Archives of AskART:
Please note: Artists not classified as American in our database may have limited biographical data compared to the extensive information about American artists.

Cartier-Bresson was born on August 22, 1908 in Chanteloup, not far from Paris, France.  He spent his early years at the Lycee Condorcet, but he never graduated.  He studied painting with Andre Lhote. He had known Max Ernst for many years and it was Ernst who convinced Cartier-Bresson's father his son shouldn't go into the family textile business but should become a painter. On the other hand, when he was a teenager, he showed his paintings to Gertrude Stein.  She advised him to go into textiles.

Looking for adventure, he went to Africa; during World War II he served in the French Army and was captured by the Germans in 1940.  During the younger years of his life he worked in photography.  He even tried his hand at movies, but by 1935 he had dropped photography and spent all his time drawing and painting. While his drawings and paintings were the talk of Paris, he continued to make his living selling his photographs in galleries throughout the world.

He was a tall slender man with white hair and penetrating blue eyes.  He lived with his wife, the photojournalist, Martine Franck in a modest apartment in Paris.  He drew or painted every day; he walked two or three miles a day but discontinued carrying the camera that was always with him before. He had no hobbies, but did a lot of reading.

Written and submitted by Jean Ershler Schatz, artist and researcher from Laguna Woods, California.

Henri Cartier-Bresson died in 2004.

Sources include:
Milton Esterow in Art News, Summer 1989
From the Internet, Biography

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