Henry Cartier-Bresson was born in 1908. His career spans many of the most relevant developments of photography in the 20th century, although his work, while extensive, escapes definition in terms of a single attributable genre. His work for Magnum is exemplary although he cannot be considered a documentary photographer. Cartier-Bresson has both a style and a philosophy so particular that they defy definition. In his images one can feel both the complexity of the photographic act and the misteriousness of the message being imparted. He was the father of the "decisive-moment" approach to photography. He seeks the moment of each particular subject, not only in terms of its appearance in that moment but also in terms of its meaning within the context of an history being told. Cartier-Bresson's photographs are confusing to the critical eye, being, in that sense, the quintessential photographs, that speak about the enigma of sight instead of the influence and presence of the photographer. As with any other superlative photographer, we can speak of a style in relation to Cartier-Bresson's photography: each of his images is immediately recognizable as a signature of the photographer.
day Cartier-Bresson received a telephone call from the
writer Jorge Luis Borges, who wished to know wether he
would be willing to accept a prize for which Borges
wanted to nominate him.
The prize was offered by a rich woman who lived in Sicily. It was for artists of all kinds. What distinguished this prize from most others was that it was the previous prize winner who nominated, after two years, the next one. And today Borges wanted to give the prize to Cartier-Bresson. "Why me?" - he asked. "Because I am blind," said Borges, "and I want to give it to you in recognition of your eyes."
Cartier-Bresson felt he could not refuse Borges and so he travelled to Palermo for the award ceremony. There, he was put in a highly reputed old hotel. Its name, or something about it, seemed familiar to him. Finally he found out why. It was the hotel his parents had gone to, on their honeymoon. He was born nine months later. In this same hotel, where he was lodged because his eyes had won a prize, he had been conceived".
Photo by Vasco Pinhol©