To celebrate the centenary of the birth of Henri Cartier-Bresson, the Art Institute will present, for the first time, a comparison of Cartier-Bresson’s photographs to the modern drawings, etchings, and paintings of his contemporaries—works that would otherwise be in storage in preparation for their installation in the Modern Wing.
Henri Cartier-Bresson, the legendary photojournalist whose work was characterized by the term “the decisive moment,” began his career as a painter influenced by the Surrealist poets who were a mainstay of Parisian café culture in the 1920s. Although his subsequent work in photography was concerned primarily with time and timing, it also reveals an appreciation for the irrational and subconscious gleaned from the work of writers and poets of this time.
Pulling from the Art Institute’s Julian Levy Collection—the legendary gallery director who assembled the first exhibition of Cartier-Bresson’s photographs in the United States—this exhibition provides a rare glimpse into the early stages of Cartier-Bresson’s career. Work by his painting instructor André Lhote parallels Cartier-Bresson’s early photographs, as does that of Salvador Dalí. Also included will be work by Giorgio de Chirico, Henri Matisse, Piet Mondrian, and Pablo Picasso that relates to photographs by Brassaï, André Kertész, and other photographers active in Paris between the World Wars.