Henri Cartier-Bresson – The Man, the Image & the World

Ateneum Art Museum will open an extensive Henri Cartier-Bresson (1908-2004) retrospective exhibition on 23 October 2015. The 300 photographs and publications in the exhibition emphasize his skill as a photographer but also his artistic talent and above all, the humanity at the very core of his work.

Henri Cartier-Bresson was one of the most influential photographers of the 20th century. From the 1930s onwards, he travelled extensively around the world, capturing landmark moments of world history with his camera. He is usually identified with the expression of the “decisive moment” in photography. For Cartier-Bresson, taking photographs was a way of telling stories about the reality he witnessed. He photographed prisoners being released from WWII concentration camps, photographed Mahatma Gandhi only a few hours before his assassination and witnessed China when the troops of Mao Zedong marched into Beijing.

Cartier-Bresson never lost sight of the humanity of the situations he captured. His pictures underscore the value of the life he photographed. On first look, the viewer sees the obvious in the photograph, but on second glance, new revelations unfold. Cartier-Bresson had a phenomenal eye for composition, but he always gave room for chance as well: “I never make calculations. I perceive a structure and wait for something to happen. There are no rules. One should not try too hard to explain the mystery.”

The exhibition highlights Cartier-Bresson’s classic photographs and also includes a selection of rare vintage prints. There are seven geographic segments according to his travels: America, Bali and Indonesia, China and Japan, Europe, India, Mexico, and the USSR. The display also contains separate sections for landscapes and portraits. The exhibition offers a wealth of supporting material about the personal and professional history of Cartier-Bresson.
Henri Cartier-Bresson – The Man, the Image & the World was originally curated by Robert Delpire in close collaboration with Henri Cartier-Bresson. The exhibition is presented together with Magnum Photos and the Foundation HCB (Paris). “The exhibition looks both fresh and impressive at Ateneum”, says Andrea Holzherr, Global Exhibitions Director at Magnum Photos.

“Ateneum Art Museum is proud to host The Henri Cartier-Bresson exhibition, which presents many of the most iconic photographs of the 20th century”, says Director of Museum Susanna Pettersson. “It allows us to revisit key moments of the past century, but its message is as contemporary as it always was: the dignity and value of human life is precious, no matter where you travel to.”

The creative team of the exhibition at Ateneum includes: specialist in photographic art Riitta Raatikainen, Exhibition Designer Osmo Leppälä, Chief Curator Sointu Fritze.