Henri Cartier-Bresson
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Henri Cartier-Bresson Childhood & Birthday, Leo - 𝐇𝐞𝐧𝐫𝐢 𝐂𝐚𝐫𝐭𝐢𝐞𝐫-𝐁𝐫𝐞𝐬𝐬𝐨𝐧 Biography
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Ratna Mohini
Mélanie
Cambridge UniversityÉcole FénelonLycée Condorcet
Cambridge University
Chanteloup-en-Brie, France
Male
Leo
Chanteloup-en-Brie, France
95
Montjustin, France
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Who is Henri Cartier-Bresson?

undefined - Henri Cartier-BressonHenri Cartier-Bresson

Henri Cartier-Bresson was a French photographer. Born into a bourgeois family, he enjoyed the benefit of indulging in the arts. As a young boy, he owned a Box Brownie that he used for taking holiday snapshots. Later in life, he would purchase a Leica camera with 50 mm lens. He entered Lhote Academy of Cubist painter and sculptor André Lhote in Paris. He attended the University of Cambridge, and studied English, art and literature. He then completed his mandatory service in the French Army. During World War II, he was a Corporal in the Film and Photo unit. He was captured by German soldiers, and spent 35 months in Nazi prisoner-of-war camps. He covered the coronation of King George VI and Queen Elizabeth focusing on the people lining the London streets. He worked with photographers like David “Chim” Seymour and Robert Capa with whom he formed Magnum Photos. He was assigned to India and China. In India, he photographed Mahatma Gandhi just 15 minutes before he was shot dead. He covered the Chinese Civil War, and was the first Western photographer to photograph “freely” in the post-war Soviet Union. He founded the Henri Cartier-Bresson Foundation with his wife and daughter to preserve and share his legacy.

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Henri Cartier-Bresson Childhood & Early Life

Henri Cartier-Bresson was born in Chanteloup-en-Brie, Seine-et-Marne, France, on August 22, 1908. His father was a wealthy textile manufacturer, while his mother’s family were cotton merchants and landowners from Normandy.

Young Henri owned a Box Brownie that he used for taking holiday snapshots. He later experimented with a 3×4 inch view camera. His parents raised him in traditional French bourgeois fashion.

He attended École Fénelon, a Catholic school. His uncle Louis introduced him to oil painting. The painting lessons were cut short, when his uncle died in World War I.

Henri Cartier-Bresson Career and Later Life

In 1927, Cartier-Bresson entered Lhote Academy, the studio of Cubist painter and sculptor André Lhote in Paris. He studied classical artists and contemporary art. He also studied painting with portraitist Jacques Émile Blanche.

From 1928 to 1929, Cartier-Bresson attended the University of Cambridge, where he studied English, art and literature, and became bilingual. He then completed his mandatory service in the French Army, stationed at Le Bourget.

In 1929, his air squadron commandant placed him under house arrest for hunting without license. American expatriate Harry Crosby persuaded the officer to release Cartier-Bresson into his custody. They spent time taking and printing pictures.

He went to Côte d’Ivoire in French colonial Africa. He survived by shooting and selling game. He took a portable camera. However, only seven photographs survived the tropics.

He returned to France in late 1931, and deepened his relationship with the Surrealists. The photographs taken by Hungarian photojournalist Martin Munkacsi inspired him to take up photography seriously.

He acquired a Leica camera with 50 mm lens in Marseilles. To maintain anonymity to overcome the formal and unnatural behavior of his subjects, he painted its shiny parts with black paint.

He photographed Berlin, Brussels, Warsaw, Prague, Budapest and Madrid. His first photograph exhibition was at the Julien Levy Gallery in New York in 1932, and subsequently at the Ateneo Club in Madrid.

He met photographers David “Chim” Seymour and Robert Capa, They shared a studio, and Capa mentored Cartier-Bresson. In 1935, he traveled to the US to exhibit his work at New York’s Julien Levy Gallery.

He returned to France, and approached Jean Renoir. He acted in Renoir’s “Partie de champagne” and “La Règle du jeu”. He helped Renoir make a film on the 200 families who ran France.

In 1937, he covered the coronation of King George VI and Queen Elizabeth, for the French weekly Regards. He focused on the people lining the London streets alone. His photo credit read “Cartier”.

Between 1937 and 1939, he worked as a photographer for the French Communists’ evening paper, Ce Soir. He was a leftist, but he did not join the French Communist party.

He joined the French Army during World War II as a Corporal in the Film and Photo unit. In 1940, he was captured by German soldiers and spent 35 months in Nazi prisoner-of-war camps.

He tried twice to escape from the prison camp, and was punished by solitary confinement. Successful at the third attempt, he hid on a farm in Touraine, and with false papers traveled to France.

In France, he went underground, aided other escapees, and worked secretly with other photographers to cover the Occupation, and then the Liberation of France. In 1943, he recovered his buried Leica camera.

During the Chinese Civil War in 1949, he covered the Kuomintang’s last six months, and the Maoist People’s Republic’s first six months. He also photographed the last surviving Imperial eunuchs in Beijing.

Cartier-Bresson held his first exhibition in France at the Pavillon de Marsan in the Louvre in 1955. He became the first Western photographer to photograph “freely” in the post-war Soviet Union.

Cartier-Bresson withdrew as a principal of Magnum in 1966. He retired from photography, and returned to drawing and painting. He held his first exhibition of drawings at the Carlton Gallery in New York.

Henri Cartier-Bresson Major Works

Cartier-Bresson’s book, “The Photographs of Henri Cartier-Bresson” was published in 1947. Along with Robert Capa, David Seymour, William Vandivert and George Rodger, he founded Magnum Photos, a cooperative picture agency owned by its members.

Magnum’s assignment took him to India and China. He achieved international recognition for his photograph of Gandhi, 15 minutes before he was shot dead and the coverage of Gandhi’s funeral in India in 1948.

In 1952, Cartier-Bresson published his book “Images à la sauvette”. Its English edition was titled “The Decisive Moment”. It included a portfolio of 126 of his photos. Henri Matisse drew the cover.

Henri Cartier-Bresson Awards & Achievements

Cartier-Bresson won the Overseas Press Club of America Award four times from 1948 to 1964. Other awards during that time include The A.S.M.P. Award, and The Prix de la Société française de photographie.

From 1974 to 2006, he was awarded The Culture Prize, Deutsche Gesellschaft für Photographie, Grand Prix National de la Photographie, Hasselblad Award, and Prix Nadar for the photobook Henri Cartier-Bresson: Scrapbook.

Henri Cartier-Bresson Personal Life & Legacy

In 1929, Cartier-Bresson embraced the open sexuality offered by Crosby and his wife Caresse. He had an intense sexual relationship with her. His affair ended in heartbreak two years after Crosby committed suicide.

In 1937, he married Javanese dancer, Ratna Mohini. They divorced after 30 years of married life. Three years later, he married Magnum photographer Martine Franck. The couple had a daughter, Mélanie.

In 2003, he created the Henri Cartier-Bresson Foundation with his wife and daughter to preserve and share his legacy.

He died in Montjustin, France, on August 3, 2003, and was buried in the local cemetery.

Henri Cartier-Bresson Trivia

After contracting blackwater fever, this photographer instructed his grandfather to bury him in Normandy while Debussy’s String Quartet was played. His uncle replied his grandfather finds it expensive, and prefers that he return first.

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Henri Cartier-Bresson awards

  • Other

    • 1959
      The Prix de la Société française de photographie
    • 1960
      Overseas Press Club of America Award
    • 1964
      Overseas Press Club of America Award
    • 1974
      The Culture Prize
    • Deutsche Gesellschaft für Photographie
    • 1981
      Grand Prix National de la Photographie
    • 1982
      Hasselblad Award
    • 2006
      Prix Nadar for the photobook Henri Cartier-Bresson: Scrapbook
    • 1948 - Overseas Press Club of America Award
    • 1953 - The A.S.M.P. Award
    • 1954 - Overseas Press Club of America Award
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Henri Cartier-Bresson biography timelines

  • Henri Cartier-Bresson was born in Chanteloup-en-Brie, Seine-et-Marne, France, on August 22, 1908. His father was a wealthy textile manufacturer, while his mother’s family were cotton merchants and landowners from Normandy.
    22nd Aug 1908
  • In 1927, Cartier-Bresson entered Lhote Academy, the studio of Cubist painter and sculptor André Lhote in Paris. He studied classical artists and contemporary art. He also studied painting with portraitist Jacques Émile Blanche.
    1927
  • From 1928 to 1929, Cartier-Bresson attended the University of Cambridge, where he studied English, art and literature, and became bilingual. He then completed his mandatory service in the French Army, stationed at Le Bourget.
    1928 To 1929
  • In 1929, his air squadron commandant placed him under house arrest for hunting without license. American expatriate Harry Crosby persuaded the officer to release Cartier-Bresson into his custody. They spent time taking and printing pictures.
    1929
  • He returned to France in late 1931, and deepened his relationship with the Surrealists. The photographs taken by Hungarian photojournalist Martin Munkacsi inspired him to take up photography seriously.
    1931
  • He photographed Berlin, Brussels, Warsaw, Prague, Budapest and Madrid. His first photograph exhibition was at the Julien Levy Gallery in New York in 1932, and subsequently at the Ateneo Club in Madrid.
    1932
  • He met photographers David “Chim” Seymour and Robert Capa, They shared a studio, and Capa mentored Cartier-Bresson. In 1935, he traveled to the US to exhibit his work at New York’s Julien Levy Gallery.
    1935
  • In 1937, he covered the coronation of King George VI and Queen Elizabeth, for the French weekly Regards. He focused on the people lining the London streets alone. His photo credit read “Cartier”.
    1937
  • Between 1937 and 1939, he worked as a photographer for the French Communists’ evening paper, Ce Soir. He was a leftist, but he did not join the French Communist party.
    1937 To 1939
  • In 1937, he married Javanese dancer, Ratna Mohini. They divorced after 30 years of married life. Three years later, he married Magnum photographer Martine Franck. The couple had a daughter, Mélanie.
    1937 To 1967
  • He joined the French Army during World War II as a Corporal in the Film and Photo unit. In 1940, he was captured by German soldiers and spent 35 months in Nazi prisoner-of-war camps.
    1940
  • Cartier-Bresson’s book, “The Photographs of Henri Cartier-Bresson” was published in 1947. Along with Robert Capa, David Seymour, William Vandivert and George Rodger, he founded Magnum Photos, a cooperative picture agency owned by its members.
    1947
  • Magnum’s assignment took him to India and China. He achieved international recognition for his photograph of Gandhi, 15 minutes before he was shot dead and the coverage of Gandhi’s funeral in India in 1948.
    1948
  • Cartier-Bresson won the Overseas Press Club of America Award four times from 1948 to 1964. Other awards during that time include The A.S.M.P. Award, and The Prix de la Société française de photographie.
    1948 To 1964
  • During the Chinese Civil War in 1949, he covered the Kuomintang’s last six months, and the Maoist People’s Republic’s first six months. He also photographed the last surviving Imperial eunuchs in Beijing.
    1949
  • In 1952, Cartier-Bresson published his book “Images à la sauvette”. Its English edition was titled “The Decisive Moment”. It included a portfolio of 126 of his photos. Henri Matisse drew the cover.
    1952
  • Cartier-Bresson held his first exhibition in France at the Pavillon de Marsan in the Louvre in 1955. He became the first Western photographer to photograph “freely” in the post-war Soviet Union.
    1955
  • Cartier-Bresson withdrew as a principal of Magnum in 1966. He retired from photography, and returned to drawing and painting. He held his first exhibition of drawings at the Carlton Gallery in New York.
    1966
  • From 1974 to 2006, he was awarded The Culture Prize, Deutsche Gesellschaft für Photographie, Grand Prix National de la Photographie, Hasselblad Award, and Prix Nadar for the photobook Henri Cartier-Bresson: Scrapbook.
    1974 To 2004
  • In 2003, he created the Henri Cartier-Bresson Foundation with his wife and daughter to preserve and share his legacy.
    2003
  • He died in Montjustin, France, on August 3, 2003, and was buried in the local cemetery.
    3rd Aug 2004
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Frequently asked questions about Henri Cartier-Bresson

  • What is Henri Cartier-Bresson birthday?

    Henri Cartier-Bresson was born at August 22, 1908

  • Where is Henri Cartier-Bresson's birth place?

    Henri Cartier-Bresson was born in Chanteloup-en-Brie, France

  • What is Henri Cartier-Bresson nationalities?

    Henri Cartier-Bresson's nationalities is French

  • Who is Henri Cartier-Bresson spouses?

    Henri Cartier-Bresson's spouses is Ratna Mohini

  • Who is Henri Cartier-Bresson childrens?

    Henri Cartier-Bresson's childrens is Mélanie

  • What was Henri Cartier-Bresson universities?

    Henri Cartier-Bresson studied at Cambridge University, École Fénelon, Lycée Condorcet university

  • What was Henri Cartier-Bresson notable alumnis?

    Henri Cartier-Bresson's notable alumnis is Cambridge University

  • What is Henri Cartier-Bresson's sun sign?

    Henri Cartier-Bresson is Leo

  • When was Henri Cartier-Bresson died?

    Henri Cartier-Bresson was died at August 3, 2004

  • Where was Henri Cartier-Bresson died?

    Henri Cartier-Bresson was died in Montjustin, France

  • Which age was Henri Cartier-Bresson died?

    Henri Cartier-Bresson was died at age 95