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An Inner Silence: The Portraits of Henri Cartier-Bresson [Paperback]

Agnès Sire , Jean-Luc Nancy
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
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Book Description

12 April 2010
Henri Cartier-Bresson photographed some of the icons of the 20th century, those few people among millions whose images will pass into history. 'An Inner Silence: The Portraits of Henri Cartier-Bresson' is a dazzling selection of Cartier-Bressons most memorable portraits, including such diverse personalities as Pablo Picasso, Carl Jung, Marilyn Monroe, Truman Capote, Lucian Freud, Susan Sontag, Coco Chanel, Jean-Paul Sartre, Che Guevara, Tony Hancock and the Dalai Lama.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 160 pages
  • Publisher: Thames and Hudson Ltd (12 April 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0500288755
  • ISBN-13: 978-0500288757
  • Product Dimensions: 24.1 x 20.1 x 1.5 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 37,839 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Henri Cartier-Bresson (August 22, 1908 - August 3, 2004) is perhaps the greatest photographer of the twentieth century. In a career spanning over sixty years, he has used his camera as an impassive and neutral third eye to capture the vagaries of human behaviour and to produce some of the most memorable and compelling photographs ever published.

Product Description


'All [these photographs] have one thing in common: celebrated photographer Henri Cartier-Bresson's extraordinary ability to capture the serenity that fleetingly overtakes all of us' --The Mail on Sunday

'Another release of spellbinding images from the master's archive... one gets from his images a real sense of curiosity about the human spirit'
--Amateur Photographer

'A dazzling collection of portraits.'
--Daily Express

'What an astonishing haul - and how gloriously they have been captured. Rembrandt would have loved this book'
--The Independent

About the Author

Henri Cartier-Bresson (1908 - 2004) was the master of 20th-century photography. Thames & Hudson has published many of his collections, including The Man, The Image and the World, Europeans, A Propos de Paris, Landscape/Townscape and, most recently, his biography, written by Pierre Assouline. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Simply Perfect portraiture 22 May 2007
By simon
Having received this book last week I have been simply addicted to the images that Bresson has taken of notable people in history. What greatly attracts me, as with all his work and any great photography, is the ability of certain portraits to captivate you and arrest your attention by revealing something that was hidden from you the times you viewed them before. Naturally this is a testament to the depth of the image that Bresson is able to capture, by not solely focusing on the person alone, but placing them in the greater context of the environment he finds his subjects in. In conjunction with expressions that are not glamourised, but natural, almost mundane, the totality of the image and its formal arrangement produces portraits that are perfections of style and which touch the surreal. A great and beautiful book.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A real gem! 19 April 2012
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Every lover of photography will have to admit Henri de Cartier-Bresson is one of the purest, most intense photographers in the history of photography.
This book is a perfect testimony to his artistic greatness, both by the pictures that are in it, and by the quality of the publication; it absolutely captures
the essence of the artist, and is therefore a work of art by itself.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating insight 14 Jun 2014
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Portraiture at its best - keep looking into the characters and what Bresson has captured - unique returning time and again to some of the wonderful famous familiar faces for fresh insights and idiosyncratic clues - wonderful.
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Amazon.com: 4.8 out of 5 stars  16 reviews
26 of 30 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An eye that truly saw the inner silence . . . 16 Jan 2007
By Jerry Saperstein - Published on Amazon.com
As you browse the millions of photos available on Flickr and other web photo sharing sites, it is apparent that most people wielding a camera do not - cannot - aspire to the special talent of Henri Cartier-Bresson.

Renowned for capturing the "decisive moment," Cartier-Bresson was also a highly skilled portraitist. Ninety-seven of his portraints appear here accompanied by one mercifully short essay by Agnes Sire and a pretentious attempt at intepretating HCB by Jean-Luc Nancy. ("What HCB gave his subjects was an air, an aura, an allure; these portraits convery a manner, a disposition, a habitus, an ethos, a mood, a grace and a favour, a gaze and a gift; the gift he has given to them.")

Surprisingly, many of the portraits are formulaic, though this does not detract from their striking nature. A 1966 picture, titled simply "Zurich" embodies Cartier-Bresson's skills as a portraitist and the capturer of the "decisive moment". A wizened, old man in a three-piece suit carrying a briefcase is captured in mid-step . . . the gnome of Zurich. A portrait of Joan Miro captures, if not parodies, the stylized eye motif of his famous paintings. His portrait of Marilyn Monroe, on the other hand, simply captures a beautful woman but with none of the sensuality that Bert Stern and so many others caught. Perhaps Cartier-Bresson saw only a beautiful woman?

While I browsed, I wondered how much of the effect of these portraits depended on knowing the subects (i.e., Truman Capote, Samuel Becket and others who may be increasingly forgotten today), but then I happened upon "Vicksburg," a 1970s shot of an anonymous black woman.

That one shot alone establishes that Cartier-Bresson's unique photographic vision will leave on long after all of his famous subjects are forgotten.

11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "One More Tribute" 30 July 2007
By H. F. Corbin - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Published to coincide with the opening in 2003 of the Foundation Henri Cartier-Bresson, which was created to house permanently the artist's collected works, AN INNER SILENCE is a joy to behold. There are 95 photographs reproduced here along with a self-portrait sketch of Cartier-Bresson and a quotation by him. Both curator Agnes Sire and philosopher Jean-Luc Nancy have written insightful, informative essays to accompany the photographs. Sire reminds us that the artist disliked being photographed-- ("Perhaps he felt the falseness of the situation")-- and tht he liked to work quickly, in the photographer's own words, to "'bite like a mosquito,'" in order to capture the inner silence of the subject.

But now to the photographs. There are shots here seen around the world of famous people: Marilyn Monroe, Martin Luther King, Jean Genet, Christian Dior (one of my favorites), Francis Bacon, Roland Barthes (fantastic photograph), a very young and pensive Carson McCullers. William Faulkner (another favorite), Henri Matisse, a very youthful and handsome John Huston, Truman Capote, Albert Camus et al.

What is so amazing, however, about these photographs is that the shots of strangers are just as intriguing and engage the viewer as much as the images of the rich and/or famous or both. For example, "Mexico" (p. 49), "Jewish ghetto, Warsaw" (p. 47), "Egypt" (p. 39), "Paris" (p. 81), "Zurich" (p. 105), and "Los Angeles" (p. 107). I for one would like to know more about this young couple.

These photographs, like all great art, invite us to view them again and again. Shot in gorgeous available natural light, they remind us of just how harsh and often pedestrian flash photography can be.

Sire closes her essay by saying that "an exhibition of these encounters would not only be one more tribute to his talent [Cartier-Bresson], as a photographer, but more importantly, would allow many aspects of his being to shine, like so many firefires in a field, because the gaze of these portraits is his gaze, linked by the thread of the other." Beautifully spoken.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Sharing the Inner Silence 10 July 2010
By Grady Harp - Published on Amazon.com
Henri Cartier-Bresson, 1908 - 2004, was a master artist with the camera, a French photojournalist (often referred to as the father of photojournalism) whose ability to find the essence of complex personalities and intriguing locations remains unmatched. This beautifully produced volume AN INNER SILENCE: THE PORTRAITS OF HENRI CARTIER-BRESSON offers ninety five examples of his graft, each in tritone black and white, images that once encountered remain as the definitive view of the captured subject in the reader's mind. And while Cartier-Bresson is perhaps most famous for his more journalistic images, this collection of portraits reminds us of just how sensitive was his eye behind the viewfinder of this Leica camera.

The quality of reproduction of the photographs in this book is truly exquisite and the accompanying information in the essays offers insights to the man and his art. As for content the images include portraits of world leaders in politics (Martin Luther King et al), literature (Jean Genet, William Faulkner et al), philosophers (Albert Camus et al), painters (Francis Bacon, Henri Matisse et al), and celebrities (Marilyn Monroe among many others), as well as portraits of peoples as places (his image of the Jewish Ghetto in Warsaw is particularly arresting).

Though there are many collections of the art of Cartier-Bresson, this book in its curated content and presentation is surely one of the finest examples of what the genius was all about. Grady Harp, July 10
9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars In love... 14 Aug 2006
By Mallory H. - Published on Amazon.com
I am in love with HCB! This book is so beautiful, every picture is amazing. If you are a fan of portraiture this is a must! If you are a fan of HCB and you don't have a book of his yet, this is a beautiful edition to start with. It has all of his famous portraits including some that were not previously published. They are full page and on nice thick paper.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars marvelous collection of portraits 30 July 2013
By djim reynolds - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
nearly 100 black & white portraits captured by HCB over many years. some of them friends others strangers, but in all of them, he seems to have illustrated how at ease he was as a photographer to catch the moments, perhaps during a conversation, when the subject let their guard down and revealed more of their natural self to the camera.

there are notes, in the beginning of the book, describing some of HCB's philosophies on portraiture and photography in general, but the book is mostly filled with photographs.
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