In my attempts to make full use of the library, I often forget to hunt out the nice art books I'd buy if I had that much money to throw around and the strength to haul the hefty tomes around every time I move house. Cartier-Bresson is perhaps the photographer I am most likely to browse.
This book was published on the occasion of an exhibition organized by Agnès Sire of the Fondation Henri Cartier-Bresson in Paris, which also came to the International Center of Photography in New York:
At the beginning of World War II, Cartier-Bresson was captured and held in a German prisoner of war camp for three years before he escaped in 1943. To the outside world, Cartier-Bresson was presumed dead, and the Museum of Modern Art in New York was preparing a memorial exhibition (which ultimately took place in 1947). When Cartier-Bresson emerged, alive, he joined the efforts to assemble this retrospective. He selected and personally printed over 300 examples of his best works—including many that had never printed before. Upon his arrival in New York in April 1946, he bought a scrapbook into which he meticulously glued all the prints in chronological order.
Though the actual scrapbook was falling apart and mostly dismantled in the 1990s, a few of the original pages were kept, with their browned pages and handwritten negative numbers. Sire's essay questions why Cartier-Bresson's photos of the Liberation of Paris were not included in the scrapbook without a definite answer. Cartier-Bresson himself didn't come across them again until years later