Cartier-Bresson photographed more extensively in the United States than in any other country except his native France, but his American pictures are among his least well known. In principle, the clarity and balance of his postwar style went hand in hand with a posture of neutral observation. But his images of the United States incorporate a distinctly critical thread, alert to American vulgarity, greed, and racism.
Cartier-Bresson was the first Western photographer to be admitted to the Soviet Union after the death of Joseph Stalin, in 1953. The pictures he made in the summer of 1954 were themselves news and became extensively reproduced. When Cartier-Bresson returned nearly two decades later, in 1972 and 1973, his images of Soviet life developed a new dimension, becoming grim, barren, and bleak.
Henri Cartier-Bresson. Greenfield, Indiana, 1960. The Museum of Modern Art, New York. Gift of the photographer. © 2010Henri Cartier-Bresson / Magnum Photos, courtesy Fondation Henri Cartier-Bresson.