Cartier-Bresson photo exhibit chronicles 20th century

Fri Apr 9, 2010 9:34am EDT
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By Christopher Michaud

NEW YORK (Reuters Life!) - A sprawling new exhibition of works by renowned photographer Henri Cartier-Bresson documents life around the globe in the 20th century.

"Henri Cartier-Bresson: The Modern Century," which opens at The Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) Sunday, is the first retrospective of his work since he died in 2004 at age 95.

The exhibit includes about 300 photographs, the majority on loan from the Henri Cartier-Bresson Foundation in Paris, and several of his documentary films. There are also lectures and discussions about his work.

"Photography (for Cartier-Bresson) was not about making pretty pictures, it was about discovering the world around him," Peter Galassi, MoMA's chief photography curator, said at a preview of the exhibit.

"He was much less interested in pictures than in his next destination and the people he would find there," he added.

At least one-fifth of the photographs in the exhibit were previously unknown to the public, according to the museum. The French artist's work from the United States is among his least known and photographs from the 1960s is of particular interest.

The exhibit begins with several monumental maps, emblazoned on the museum's walls, which delineate Cartier-Bresson's worldwide travels, the relevant dates and the resulting work.

Virtually all of the photographs have human subjects. The works range from everyday images of European laborers or housewives to defining cultural and political events such as Gandhi's funeral, or China's Communist revolution.   Continued...

<p>Cartier-Bresson is pictured in this file picture from September 1989. REUTERS/Charles Platiau</p>