Research essay on Henri Cartier-Bresson

Essay by stinknuggetsUniversity, Bachelor'sA+, November 2009

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"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…. In photography, the smallest thing can be a great subject. The little human detail can become Leitmotif" - Henri Cartier-Bresson (Hall).

Henri Cartier-Bresson was a universal photojournalist, painter and artist who is regarded by many as the originator of modern photojournalism. He helped to develop the "street photography" or "real life reportage" style that has influenced generations of photographers that followed (Maison Européenne).

Cartier-Bresson was born the in the French town of Chanteloup-en-Brie on August 22,1908. Cartier-Bresson started out taking photographs as a hobby when he received a small camera, known as s Box Brownie, in his youth. He would often take family pictures at holiday gatherings. His father, the owner of a successful French textile business, was able to facilitate him with the financial means to perform this pastime.

While his father's desire was for him to take over the family business, Henri was not interested and desired to pursue a career in art.

Henri Cartier-Bresson's first passion was his love of painting and drawing. His uncle Louis, a skilled painter, instructed him in oil painting (Kimmelman). In 1927, at the age of 19, Cartier-Bresson began attending the Lhote Academy, a Parisian studio of the Cubist painter and sculptor Andre Lhote. Cartier-Bresson often regarded Lhote "as his teacher of photography without a camera" (Maison Européenne). Feeling stifled by the more structured Lhote Academy, Cartier-Bresson left to study English Art and Literature at the University of Cambridge. His artistic pursuits were deferred when he was called to military service, which was mandatory in France at that time.

After leaving the French army Henri traveled to Africa to seek adventure...