Thursday, September 20, 2012

Henri Cartier-Bresson: Biographie eines Blicks / The Impassioned Eye

Heinz Bütler’s documentary Henri Cartier-Bresson: Biographie eines Blicks / The Impassioned Eye (2003; DVD 2006) takes a non-linear look at the 20th photographer-artist, who makes several "gimlet-eyed" quips. Judging from this film, Cartier-Bresson (1908-2004) was still mischievous right to the end. It'd be helpful to read at least a summary of his life before watching this, I think.
My notes follow. Most of the phrases come from Cartier-Bresson himself, as translated into English in the original.  
“What patience – that’s what you need. Actually it’s impatience.”
2nd asst. to Jean Renoir – he showed up and gave Renoir some photos, asked for a job – and Renoir gave him one
Interaction of people with their surroundings
To be a good photographer you just to have live, then life will give you pictures . . .
You have to take pictures because it fills you with life . . .
That’s photography – you have to seize the moment . . . that’s the joy of taking pictures
People in settings

Music and outings, roaming, ever roaming
Simple observation – look
Another photographer says: “a single instant can reveal all the ambiguity of the visible"
Isabelle Huppert – a great photo has a musical feel to
it . . . it’s a little like theatre, in fact . . . I think he’s telling us about himself when he’s telling us about the world
Mexico, China, India, Harlem, Mississippi, civil rights
Arthur Miller: America is a place of extremes
There’s a natural geometry in what we see . . . You feel, you see, the surprised eye responds
Do you see the pigs? They’re interested in everything . . .
Isabelle: He was everywhere
Henri:  eye, mind and heart had to be aligned
Patterns – geometry is the foundation
On Calder: I liked him a lot . . . you couldn’t understand a word he was saying . . .
Isabelle: a moment of truth
Henri: Portraits are the most difficult. Everything is fleeting . . . (example of brief flashing smile on Coco Chanel’s face before she went hard as nails again)
Take care of your [camera] eye
Truman Capote
This moment that comes out of movement
Get close enough to feel something but [remain] detached enough not to get too involved
There’s no law – no rule
Reading Rimbaud as POW during WW2, perennially escaped prisoner in his psyche (and he did finally escape)
Someone notes: he had an innate feeling for politics and international events
Miller: fundamentally a tragic vision
You never know what you’re getting into
Drawing, other art forms into his 90s
Looks at a painting in a museum – he asks, what can you do after this? Get good and drunk

Martine Franck (1938-2012) – her legs attracted his camera eye, among other things
Surrealists, interaction over the years
Memory is so strange. Proust had a lot to say about that
Everything lives on . . .
Today's Rune: Fertility.


Adorably Dead said...

Love your post.

"To be a good photographer you just to have live, then life will give you pictures"

This kind of reminds me of another quote I've heard.

"Know something, sugar? Stories only happen to people who can tell them." Allan Gurganus

Charles Gramlich said...

Her legs attracted his camera eye. :)