“The last war changed the Far East more than any other part of the world. . . . In addition to our own problems at home, we are paying for our grandfathers’ failure to foresee that the colonial system was not eternal.”
Cartier-Bresson’s work of the early 1930s reflects one of the great innovative episodes of modern art. It belongs to a world in which Surrealism was still a fresh adventure, before the worst of the Great Depression, the rise of Fascism, the demise of Republican Spain, the Nazi occupation of France, and Cartier-Bresson’s own harsh experience of World War II.
Things were very different after the war—and so was Cartier-Bresson. He found in photojournalism a productive framework for his passionate engagement with the rapidly changing world. The pictures in this section are typical of his new style; each frames a small group of characters in a scene of stunning simplicity.
Henri Cartier-Bresson. New York City, 1946. Fondation Henri Cartier-Bresson, Paris. © 2010 Henri Cartier-Bresson / Magnum Photos, courtesy Fondation Henri Cartier-Bresson.