Essays by James Hyman

Henri Cartier-Bresson as Printmaker: a complete catalogue

Henri Cartier-Bresson as Printmaker: a complete catalogue

 
 

James Hyman
Print Quarterly
1998

Text Summary:

This essay, the first on the subject, draws attention to the lithographs of Henri Cartier-Bresson. It provides a catalogue of the artist's printmaking and focuses on his two most substantial bodies of prints, for deluxe editions of Louis Aragon's Le Paysan de Paris and Yves Bonnefoy's Comme aller loin, dans les pierres. It proposes that while Cartier-Bresson is more famed for his achievements as a photograper, it is drawing, from which these lithographs stem, that has been his central preoccuptation for the last twenty years, and has not only resulted in moving drawings but also has made a sensitive contribution to contemporary printmaking.

Such lithographs represent a small, though moving body of work. In their attentiveness to the subject, the lithographs of Henri Cartier-Bresson are a fine reflection of Louise Aragon's assertion that `the image is the path of all knowledge I...] there is no other knowledge than that of the particular. There is no other poetry than that of the concrete. Madness is the predominance of the abstract and the general over the concrete, over poetry [...] A poetic life, pray engrave that expression.' The invocation provides a suitable epiphet for the printmaking of Cartier-Bresson.

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