Decisive Moments @ Fine Art Society, London October 2015

This exhibition of Cartier-Bresson prints is held in New Bond Street at The Fine Art Society; it consists of original prints which presumably means either printed by or under the direction of Cartier-Bresson himself. They range in price from about £12,000 to £24,000. Although the exhibition was only scheduled to run for 3 weeks until the end of October, it is extended by popular demand so that the exhibition runs for over a month until the middle of November. A

Entrance to the Fine Art Society

Entrance to the Fine Art Society

number of portraits of artists have already sold such as the iconic one of Matisse sitting with birds around him and a couple of shots of Giacometti, one of them showing him crossing a street with his coat held up around his head as it is raining.

The exhibition is called Decisive Moments and this title rather underplays Cartier-Bresson’s concept of the Decisive Moment which he saw as underlying photography as a whole since in his work, a photograph was a record of a moment that needed to be caught at exactly the right time. The famous if not iconic photograph of a man walking into a puddle behind the Gare St Lazare in Paris is a classic example of this since the effect might have been lost a fraction of a second before or after Cartier-Bresson made his exposure.
exhibition announcement in shop window of The Fine Arts Society

exhibition announcement in shop window of The Fine Arts Society

Looking around at these wonderfully composed photographs one is struck by the quality of the printing that has caught the light in each image. The play of brightness and contrast brings the formality of the image into life. The tones differ too creating harmonies within the image.
Most of the images here are well known and they cover a wide range of places but Cartier-Bresson is not so much a travel photographer rather someone who is observing life and the humanity that makes it worthwhile. The prints hanging from the wall are clearly carefully made and although they might be described as snap shots, they are minutely observed and not directly the result of happenstance.
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