Cartier-Bresson Had His Mojo Workin'

Let's begin the new year with some art instead of argument. I was watching the excellent Henri Cartier-Bresson documentary, The Impassioned Eye, the other day, and was struck once again by the marvelous integration of his photographs. He paid close attention to geometry and pattern, which all artists must do, but rarely has it been done with such clarity and panache. My favorite works of his mix human and built or natural forms into coherent compositions, with the human forms adding a sense of imperfection or fuzziness into the frame, along with sociological and emotional overtones. The humans are at once of the same order as the non-human forms -- they are equal elements of the pattern -- but are also mysterious and transcendent.

The master claimed that the key was being ready for "the decisive moment":
Photography is not like painting. There is a creative fraction of a second when you are taking a picture. Your eye must see a composition or an expression that life itself offers you, and you must know with intuition when to click the camera. That is the moment the photographer is creative. Oop! The Moment! Once you miss it, it is gone forever.
This sounds right, but I'm inclined not just to take him at his word. The moments Cartier-Bresson captured were so perfect that I feel he must somehow have bent the universe to his will, asserting mighty mojo so that humans and the myriad elements of the physical environment rushed into position only to satisfy his aesthetic desires! Here are a few of his most celebrated images. You be the judge as to what kind of magic is working here.



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