Cartier-Bresson photos: better in color or black and white?

Cartier-Bresson photos: better in color or black and white?
Yareah Magazine

Cartier-Bresson: A QUESTION OF COLOUR. Exhibition in London

henri cartier bresson

henri cartier bresson (Photo credit: TheBeachSaint)

From November 8 to January 27, 2013, a great exhibition in London questions Cartier-Bresson ideas about photos and photography: better in color or black and white?

Somerset House Trust – Strand London WC2R 1LA

According to the photographer Henri Cartier-Bresson (1908 – 2004), photography is an art which requires black and white (also cinema) and color should be reserved for commerce. As long as the illustrated magazines were restricted to black and white reproduction, his strict idea was not a problem for photographers, who adored the medium. However, after the Second World War and the irruption of other kind of magazines, discussions started and Henry Cartier-Bresson was a kind of fanatic defender of black and white.

In 1952, he published ‘The Decisive Moment’. The book contains the term ‘the decisive moment’, now synonymous with Cartier-Bresson’s main artistic idea: “There is nothing in this world that does not have a decisive moment.” Of course, this moment must be taken by the photographer and must be taken in black and white because it’s really difficult to take a perfect moment in color (although not impossible): he summarized the idea saying ‘the simultaneous recognition, in a fraction of second, of the significance of an event as well as of a precise organization of forms which give that event its proper expression.’

Currently, the Somerset House in London is presenting an important exhibition with the work of different photographers who believe ‘the Decisive Moment’ can be reflected in color.

Some were his contemporaries, even friends, like Ernst Haas. Others, like Fred Herzog in Vancouver, only knew him through his seminal books. Harry Gruyaert was a young colleague who debated ferociously with the master. Andy Freeberg or Carolyn Drake, never knew the artist first hand, but felt the influence of his ideas.

The inaugural exhibition for the Positive View Foundation featuring 10 Cartier-Bresson photographs never before exhibited in the UK alongside over 75 works by 14 international acclaimed photographers. If you have the chance, don’t miss this event. An important discussion for lovers of photography.

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View Comments (1)
  • what an exhibition this must be! i must confess that b/w images hold a very special place in my heart and eye – an entirely different perspective over color –

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