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4.8 out of 5 stars22
4.8 out of 5 stars
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on 26 February 2005
This book is full of incredibly emotive imagery, I was amazed to find so many photos that I have admired over the years were taken by Cartier-Bresson, maybe you will too. The photos make you rethink historical events, times gone by and about the construction of a 'good' photograph; unpicking why each photogrpah works so successfully. The only drawback is some of the larger images are interrupted by the spine of the book, and some are a little too small. Overall worth the expense.
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This is a very large and heavy book. Had it been hardback, it would have been yet heavier.

Anyone familiar with some of Cartier-Bresson's photography will probably find several that are very familiar and quite iconic. There are also many that are less known, but collectively it is probably the largest collection of Cartier-Bresson's work in a single volume. The only colour images noted are of his artwork and of a wartime ID card, which is a strange inclusion. Everything else is monochrome!

Some of the images are presented in a very large scale and are therefore spread across opposing pages. However, several smaller images are also spread across both pages, and that is less understandable. In many instances, the images are presented several per page and that is a benefit in that it allows a far wider spectrum of images than would otherwise be possible.

The images were taken over many years and are presented in no particular order; more recent may be adjacent to another much older, portraits with photo-reportage and so on. There are even a few landscapes although they were less his forté than portraiture and photo-reportage. Also included are some of his drawings and paintings, which many would be surprised to know that he did, but he was originally trained in art and adopted photography at a slightly later date. As a retrospective, it is about as complete as you will ever see and the art and skill of the man is evident throughout. His ability to 'see' photographically is perhaps unsurpassed and may remain unmatched.

There isn't much textual content, and the book does not really need it. The explanations are mostly contained within the images. The technical data is unimportant, not included and may not be known, even to the photographer himself. I know that he preferred to use Leica cameras, but possibly not exclusively later in his life. At the end of the day, the equipment used is irrelevant to the final image, and it is the image upon which Cartier-Bresson's reputation was built. Additionally, there is a comprehensive list of exhibition catalogues where his work was featured, a massively complete bibliography and a diary-calendar of significant events, exhibitions and such during his lifetime.

A vital addition to anyone's collection.
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on 15 February 2010
This retrospective gives a perfect overview of Henri Cartier-Bressons work. The shape of the (paper back) book is a bit odd and because of its weight it can easily slip off your table and get damaged. The contents are, however, not to be missed.
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on 6 September 2010
Anybody who considers himself a photographer or just like photos should have this book - Bresson is one of the top notch photographers of all time. Highly recommended
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on 20 April 2013
Having spent the last forty years taking photographs either for a living or for enjoyment all I can say is I wish I had this in 1972. For the last few years I have been trying to move away from looking at the mechanics of photography to images likes the ones in this book. When you consider the price you have to pay for small bits and pieces of photo gear then money on a book like this is money well spent. The only negative this to say about the book is it's a little heavy and I like to carry books around to look through on the train etc but if it stays in my home then that will have to do.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 25 January 2012
This large and heavy paperback may not fit easily on your shelves,but makes an enticing coffee table book with its large selection of Cartier-Bresson's celebrated black-and-white photos, usually with the black border showing that the original negative has not been cropped, and covering the span of his career (mainly 1930s - 1970s) spent travelling the world as a photojournalist, trying to capture "the decisive moment" or "fugitive instant" to represent the meaning of a scene or event. His gift for remaining unobtrusive, yet acting with feline speed when required, enabled him to obtain some striking but unposed and therefore more natural images.

The book includes a few biographical chapters and also interesting examples of his work as a small-scale film producer in the studio of Jean Renoir, plus the drawings and paintings to which he turned in old age, virtually abandoning the 35mm Leica which had made photography "his way of life".

You will find yourself poring for minutes on end over the spontaneous shots which preserve striking patterns of light and shade, geometric shapes made from the natural interplay of objects, insights into the lives of ordinary people captured in his "street photography" and impressions of landscapes, often resembling paintings in their composition.
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on 23 March 2013
This is was my first book dealing with the work of Henri Cartier-Bresson. It has certainly given me a better understanding of the man, and his artistic training that led to his adoption of the "miniature" camera - in his case the Leica. It represents good value for the quantity and quality of photographs and drawings included in the contents. Other books probably are better at the biography and development of the man, but are unlikely to provide such a comprehensive collection of Carier-Bresson's work.
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on 25 December 2004
This is a work of art, a beautiful book, in the coffee table super league.
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on 21 March 2015
Great book with a nice selection of photos and well laid out. The size of the book and sheer number of photographs make this superb value for money. The book contains several essays written by various experts which I found to be incredibly artsy and pretentious, although you don't have to read them and they don't take up a lot of the book. I would have much preferred to read a brief history of the man's life as well as critique or commentary on individual photographs.
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TOP 1000 REVIEWERon 16 August 2011
Cartier-Bresson's imagery has been ubiquitous and emotionally powerful for decades. This books collects many of those images together with some details of the backgrounds.

For a photographer, it is a great source of inspiration from an excellent, pioneering photographer.
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