Magazine article Newsweek

An Eye without Equal; Henri Cartier-Bresson, 1908-2004

Magazine article Newsweek

An Eye without Equal; Henri Cartier-Bresson, 1908-2004

Article excerpt

Byline: Malcolm Jones

Few people have led more storied lives than Henri Cartier-Bresson, who died last week at the age of 95. Born rich into a family of French thread merchants, he trained as a painter enamored of the surrealists. After a trip to Africa in 1930, where he wound up nearly dying from blackwater fever, he returned to France and took up photography. Almost immediately, his work set a standard for excellence that has yet to be matched. Art photography, portraiture, photojournalism--there was nothing he could not do with a camera.

As a French soldier and Resistance fighter during World War II, he escaped from German prisoner-of-war camps three times. After the war, he was one of the founders of Magnum, the photojournalists' cooperative for which he shot the rise of communist China and the fall of British India. Then, when he was in his 60s, he abandoned photography, shelving his camera in favor of a pencil and sketch pad. …

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