Archived posting to the Leica Users Group, 2003/06/21

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Subject: RE: [Leica] HCB Did It All First
From: "Buzz Hausner" <>
Date: Sat, 21 Jun 2003 21:28:55 -0400

Slobodan, I certainly don't claim that there is an underlying message in
the body of Cartier-Bresson's work, though I do read messages from his
individual images and photographic essays.

Regarding his portraits, I can see where a quick scan of the book could
lead one to think they were formulaic, especially the many pictures of
the early- and mid-century French artists, poets and philosophers with
whom one may not be acquainted.  However, when I peruse many of the
individual portraits...of Truman Capote, the Curies, Saul Steinberg,
Bonard, Steichen, Giacometti, Matisse, et alii...what I see is that he
has captured something of the essence of the subjects and the portraits
enhance my understanding of those individuals.

If all Cartier-Bresson had done was take the portraits, I agree that he
would be a minor figure in the world of art.  Somehow he managed to
undertake major work in many other aspects of 35mm photography while
saving a little time on the side to co-found Magnum, escape from the
Nazis, direct films, and make a fundamental contribution to the
Surrealist philosophy and movement.  Maybe his pictures are best
described as, "well articulated snap-shots."  I can only wish that my
pictures were so articulate.  Some of his pictures even aren't that
great and I pay them little attention.  However, I find that the body of
his work...portraits, journalism, essays, landscapes, holiday pictures
of his friends, happy-snaps of his daughters, leads me to conclude that
he is one of the great artists of the Twentieth Century.

	Buzz Hausner

- -----Original Message-----
[] On Behalf Of Slobodan
Sent: Saturday, June 21, 2003 5:13 PM
Subject: Re: [Leica] HCB Did It All First

Obviously I'm not shallow enough, as I don't _see_the underlying message
that you claim is in the work. The flip side of this could be whether
the work is that easily accessible that any one can tap into its
brilliant message, and I'm just a lost blinded soul buffeted on a
desolate tundra, ever locked in my unimaginative prison.
If anything, his work strikes me as a well articulated snapshots. Last
semester, I showed my students his book on photo portraiture. We flipped
through the pages one at a time. Then, I flipped through the pages like
one would through a carton flip book, to show the sameness throughout
the work. I'm sure someone else would see it as a stylistic continuity,
and I won't argue with that.
But really Buzz, this physiological state of arousal of yours is
somewhat unseemly, over what is just another guy's work earning a living
with his camera. 
Slobodan Dimitrov

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