Cartier-Bresson, Who Photographed the 'Decisive Moment,' Dies

posted 2004-08-04 16:09:54 by stevemay

PARIS (Reuters) - Frenchman Henri Cartier-Bresson, one of the great photographers of the 20th century and a founding father of modern photojournalism, has died aged 95, family friends said on Wednesday.

A founder of the Magnum picture agency in 1947 who admirers dubbed ``the eye of the century,'' Cartier-Bresson died in the south of France on Monday, LCI television channel said.

The Web Site of newspaper Liberation said the photographer, an intensely private man, was buried on Wednesday in a quiet family ceremony at Monjustin, in the Provence region.

``He was the greatest. What he saw was extraordinary,'' said Goksin Sipahioglu, founder of Sipa Press photo agency. ``He was a great and humble man.

Cartier-Bresson made his name partly by being in the right place at the right time, a knack that enabled him to develop his talent for capturing in his trade-mark black and white photographs what he called the ``decisive moment.''

During a career in which he traveled to more than 20 countries, Cartier-Bresson documented some of the most powerful moments and figures of the last century.

From the Spanish Civil war to the liberation of Paris during World War II, the death of India's Mahatma Gandhi to the fall of Beijing to Mao Zedong's forces in 1949 or the Berlin Wall.

In 1954, the Frenchman also became the first Western photographer allowed into the Soviet Union after the death of Soviet dictator Josef Stalin the previous year.

Cartier-Bresson's most striking photographs, such as the French boy proudly carrying two huge bottles with a little girl giggling behind him or the rotund man caught in mid-leap across a Paris puddle, illustrate the superb design, insight and gentle good humor characteristic of his work.

One of his most famous photographs, the 1938 ``Picnic on the Banks of the Marne,'' shows a working-class family enjoying a picnic, innocently unaware of the camera's presence.

Cartier-Bresson quit Magnum in 1966, but continued for a while to take photographs, living in Paris with his second wife, photographer Martine Franck, and their adopted child.

He set aside his camera in 1974 and concentrated on drawing, another lifelong passion, friends said. Last year he set up his own foundation in Paris, the Fondation Henri Cartier-Bresson.