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Monday, April 19, 2010

What's in the frame: an ode to a master

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Henri Cartier-Bresson
first a painter, then the original street photographer and father of photojournalism
August 22, 1908 – August 3, 2004

Cartier-Bresson said, "To take photographs means to recognize - simultaneously and within a fraction of a second - both the fact itself and the rigorous organization of visually perceived forms that give it meaning. It is putting one's head, one's eye and one's heart on the same axis."


What's in the frame

A moment is an eternal wheel
that you froze,

or the center of a wheel,

like a cigarette in a mouth,
and all around,
the world is
puffing, blowing, kissing,

touching you
with its beautiful lips.

- ruth m.


There is a photography exhibit at the MoMA of Henri Cartier-Bresson's photos shot in the U.S., which I plan to see next month. Browse his portfolio. Read the history of the Magnum Photo Agency, which he helped found. You can see MoMA's interactives about the exhibit.


Martine's Legs. 1967.

INDIA. Gujarat. Ahmedabad. 1966.
Women spreading out their saris before the sun.
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48 comments:

Marcie said...

What a wonderful collection of this 'master's images. I - too - plan on seeing the MOMA exhibit. Thank-you for this little 'teaser' and insight into this great man's mind!!!

my15minutes said...

Wish I lived close enough to the MOMA to see it. I love his work! Just discovered your blog the other day.... nice to meet you. :-)

Gwei Mui said...

Similar to my15minutes I often pop into the Photographers Gallery when I'm in the centre of London if I have the money. To see those moments of time and history captured for all time.

Loring Wirbel said...

the world

"touching you with its beautiful lips"

Oh bravo!

Arti said...

What Sync again! I've been reading about another Bresson, Robert Bresson the filmmaker in Paul Schrader's Transcendental Style in Film: Ozu, Bresson, Dreyer. My interest at first was Ozu, who's simply mesmerizing. And then I came across Shcrader's book online, and now I want to watch Bresson's films... but alas, nowhere to be found. Thanks for this post, now I've another Bresson to research and appreciate. MOMA to see Bresson's photography... am I dreaming?

Lorenzo — Alchemist's Pillow said...

A touching tribute to the master. I love the poem, so deceptively simple, like watching an image take shape in a photographer's developing dish and then suddenly it's there. The image of the center of the wheel is a very nice metaphor for what photography does -- where stasis and motion are the same thing.

Pamela Terry and Edward said...

Wonderful photography is such a delicate art. Your poems captures it well.

And boy, that Martine had some lovely legs!

Oh said...

love this. Love photos. You'd think it odd for a professed wordsmith, yet sometimes I love the economy of them for their storytelling ability and sometimes I love photos for the "jolt" they offer and I love them because they are "out there" art, unlike writing which you just cannot put on a wall. Well, you can but it doesn't guarantee the same reach as a photo. Anyway, have long been a fan of Cartier-Bresson and you "gallery" him so well here on your blog.
A pleasure.

RoSe said...

Hi Ruth, thanks for your wonderful comments on my blog, I am honored ...and embraced with delight the fact that you once lived in Ashland, a most magical place indeed.
I love this poem you wrote, and the photos you chose to accompany it.
I used a Bresson quote as inspiration for a blogpost I did last year, linked here.. take a quick look if you have the time. http://shortasaminute.blogspot.com/2009/10/welcome-home.html
take care, come visit if you are on the west coast, mi casa es su casa.

Vagabonde said...

Henri Cartier-Bresson was such a master, so intuitive and perceptive. But you know, with my research on copyrights law on photography here and in France, I found out that he could not now take photos as he did then. The laws in France have changed and you can take photos of people in the streets and other places but you cannot publish them. I wonder how many Cartier-Bresson type photographers we will miss in the future.

The Bumbles said...

Photographers aren't the only ones to capture - your poem did a quite nice job of capturing the essence of the photo itself.

Thanks for the heads up on that exhibit. I was looking to plan a trip to NYC this Spring to visit some family - this would be terrific to see.

♥ Kathy said...

Such a talented photographer and honored by such a wonderful poet..you dear Ruth :) Beautiful.

Terresa said...

(Sigh) Those are some lovely legs. And your poem, very fitting as well.

While I'm not a huge fan of TV or video, I love a good book of photographs. Somehow, in the still moments, there is so much more.

Sidney said...

I think a photography class should be a requirement in all educational programs because it makes you see the world rather than just look at it. ~Author Unknown

Deborah said...

Reading Cartier-Bresson's quote makes me feel better about all those shots I've missed, or didn't get quite right!
Lucky you, to be able to go to the exhibition. Photography of this kind wonderful and fascinating to contemplate.
Vagabonde's comment was very interesting - I've wondered about that.

Bella Rum said...

Enjoy! I know you will.

Jeanie said...

The work of Henri C-B has always dazzled me -- I saw the gallery notice in the Times and wished I could see it. Lucky you. And the poem. Beautiful. And perfect for this post!

CottageGirl said...

What an amazing photographer! I've really never paid that much attention to photography as an art. But now that I'm taking more pics, I'm getting it more.

Your words make beautiful pictures as well!

Oliag said...

...Oh have I missed reading your posts! They are always the best...I have been thoroughly enjoying your poems especially:)

I think I will have a new rule...if I only read one blog a day it will be this one...instead of saving it for last:)

Mr O has already brought this Cartier-Bresson show to my attention and plans to escort me there sometime before it ends in June...I love MOMA...

Susan said...

Lucky you to be going to see his extraordinary work!

Lucky us to be able to read your extraordinary words!

Ruth said...

Hi, Marcie. Maybe I'll see you there. :)

Your Allegretto image is the best bokeh I think I've ever seen.

http://www.marciescudderphotography.com/

Ruth said...

Hello, and welcome, my15minutes. I read that the exhibit will come to Chicago next, but that's even farther from you.

It's nice to meet you too.

Ruth said...

Gwei Mui, oh there is so much there in the city, you must love it. At least some museums are free.

Ruth said...

Thank you, Loring, very much.

Ruth said...

Arti, if I weren't already going to NY, I could go to Chicago, which is closer, where the exhibit it coming next. I look forward to it and some other photography shows, one at the Guggenheim at least . . .

Ruth said...

Lorenzo, that's a very nice reading and warms my heart. Thank you for recognizing something I hadn't in the poem.

Ruth said...

Hi, Pamela, thank you.

Now I am going to be a little picky about Martine's legs. They make a gorgeous photo here, crossed like that, no doubt about it. But I find them a little thin, if we're going to be critical. I'm guessing she was a very very slim person, which is fine, but I like a meatier calf. :)

Ruth said...

Hi, Oh, I agree with you. If I hadn't taken five poetry writing classes with Wakoski I might not have understood the economy of language that I know just a little. I am soooo wordy at times. So I let the words flow, and then I go back and delete the too many "thes" and blahblahblahs. Best to edit after the fact. But this one, I have to say, came in this short state. I wouldn't want to say too much about this master, whom I am only now studying, as if I were some master of the master.

Helena said...

I love photography. But it's weird how some people don't have the eye for taking good, balanced photos. It's not about skills. It seems to be something that you have or don't have.

Ruth said...

RoSe, it has been a pleasure getting reacquainted with Ashland and the area through you and your blog.

That was an awesome post in your link! You must have been just amazed to have your historical photo come full circle like that. Now, to remember that fourth person!

Ruth said...

Vagabonde, I didn't know that about France. It isn't so here in the U.S. It is legal to publish a photo of someone in a public place without their permission as long as it isn't commercial. A newspaper can even publish a photo inside without permission, it's considered editorial. If it's on the cover though, it's considered advertising.

Ruth said...

Hi there, and thank you, Bumbles. Maybe I'll see you at the MoMA. :)

Ruth said...

Thank you so much, ♥ Kathy. :)

Ruth said...

Hi, Terresa, don't you think they're a bit skinny? Oh well, they do look nice there in the photo.

I'm like you about TV, and movies are calling me less and less. But photographs - ooh la la.

Ruth said...

Agreed, Sidney.

Ruth said...

Deborah, yes, it's different here in the U.S. Please read my response to her.

Thank you for your comment. You're right, it's so much about timing.

Ruth said...

Thanks, Bella, I will do my best. :)

Ruth said...

Merci bien, Jeanie. Should we have lunch in Paris instead of E. Lansing? Oui? D'accord.

Ruth said...

CottageGirl, I think it's hard to know how great he was now when everyone snaps so many pictures! What he did pioneered handheld small format cameras, and we should all be grateful to him. I'm glad you are!

Thank you.

Ruth said...

Dear Oliag, I missed you, so glad to see you.

Your comment made my week, and I'll always remember it. Thank you.

Maybe I'll see you and Mr O! :)

Ruth said...

Susie, thank you, DOLL.

Ruth said...

Helena, an eye, I guess. And I love how different people see differently. My son, for instance, has an extraordinary eye.

California Girl said...

Sending to the Spousal unit, hoping he won't change our trip to Lexington & Cincinnati to go to NYC once he knows about the show @ MOMA.

Ginnie said...

Not only in France, Ruth, but in England, too. All kinds of rules and regulations, especially regarding children. Sigh. And of course, we already know this if we try to do stock photography. BUT...we have much to learn from the old masters. I wonder if they would say the same for some of our new digital photographers these days?

Ruth said...

Ha, California Girl, what's the verdict?

Ruth said...

Boots, I had not idea until Vagabonde's comment how it is in France. AMS too?

I can't wait to hear about your visit with V in Atlanta!

Christina said...

he is one of my favorites!
i loved catching up here.
xoxo

Ruth said...

So good to see you, Christina, master. :) xoxo