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Fondation Henri Cartier-Bresson : Pearls from the Archives


The Fondation’s conservation department regularly presents images that stand-alone, along the visitors’ visit through the space, telling the unique story behind them and thereby unravelling the life of the man who bears the name of the institution. These pearls embody the remarkable career of a 20th century man, steeped in literature and art, whose curiosity was only equalled by his freedom.

Many photographs of Henri Cartier-Bresson are now part of the collective memory and have left a lasting impression due to their link with history, each individual appropriating and forming an attachment with the images depending on their own sensitivity and personal experience.

The collection of more than 30,000 original prints selected by the photographer has many surprises in store. Each new exhibition at the Fondation HCB will reveal rarely published photographs.

This programme is supported by the Gutenberg Agency.

Robert Capa, Hippodrome de Longchamp, 1953
Henri Cartier-Bresson is 45 years old. He describes Magnum Photos as “the fruit of the combined genius of Chim (David Seymour) and Robert Capa”, the co-founders, along with George Rodger and himself, of the photographers’ cooperative created in 1947. The agency’s main aim
is to allow photographers to maintain full control over their photographs’ copyrights and remain the owners of their negatives. Cartier-Bresson explains: “In the beginning, Robert Capa used to bet on horses to pay our secretaries.” In 1949, upon returning from the Eastern world after the international success of his report on China, he demands the money for his published works: “Capa replied: “You’d better go fetch your camera and get to work. I used your money because we were about to go bankrupt.” I nearly lost my temper but he was right. He didn’t give me precise ideas of photographs to take, but ten ideas of locations. Of these ten locations, five or six were terrible, two were excellent and one fantastic! That’s how it happened. And I kept working.”

Fondation Henri Cartier-Bresson

79 rue des Archives – 75003 Paris



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