23
Jan
13

Exhibition: ‘Cartier-Bresson: A Question of Colour’ at Somerset House, London

Exhibition dates: 8th November 2012 – 27th January 2013

.

They may be channelling the master, but none does it like Cartier-Bresson. There is a spareness and spatial intensity to Cartier-Bresson’s work that is absolutely his own. Look at the photograph directly below (Harlem, New York, 1947). A railing leads the eye in bottom right, echoed by the bottom jamb of the window. The opening is set for the old man to perform complete with curtains, talking stage right. The jamb zig zags above a trilby-wearing, cigarette-smoking man’s head leading to a wire mesh fence that takes the eye out of the frame on the left. The two men, lower than the old man in the framed window, look in a completely different direction to him. Counterpoise. The image pulls in two directions. Above their head a series of cantilevered staircases ascends to the heavens, thought ascending. A masterpiece.

So many of the other photographers in this posting crowd the plane with people looking in all directions, closed off foregrounds or tensionless images. Images that are too complex or too simple. There is an opposition to Cartier-Bresson’s images that is difficult for the viewer to resolve neatly, yet they appear as if in perfect balance. Look at Brooklyn, New York, 1947 towards the bottom of the posting. Nothing in this still life is out of place (from the light to the multiple, overlapping shadows and the out of focus elements of the composition) yet there is humbling agony about the whole thing. It is almost is if he is saying, “cop a load of this, this is what I can see.” And what a fabulous eye it is.

.
Many thankx to Somerset House for allowing me to publish the photographs in the posting. Please click on the photographs for a larger version of the image.

.

.

Henri Cartier-Bresson. 'Harlem, New York' 1947

.

Henri Cartier-Bresson
Harlem, New York, 1947
1947
Gelatin silver print / printed 1970s
Image: 29.1 x 19.6 cm / Paper: 30.4 x 25.4 cm
© Henri Cartier-Bresson/Magnum Photos, Courtesy Fondation Henri Cartier-Bresson

.

Alex Webb. 'Tehuantepec, Mexico' 1985

.

Alex Webb
Tehuantepec, Mexico
1985
71 x 47 cm
Digital Type C print
© Alex Webb

.

Andy Freeberg. 'Sean Kelly, Art Basel Miami' 2010

.

Andy Freeberg 
Sean Kelly, Art Basel Miami
2010
Artist: Kehinde Wiley
63 x 43 cm
Pigment ink print
© Andy Freeberg
Courtesy Kopeikin Gallery

.

Carolyn Drake. 'New Kashgar. Kashgar, China'  2011

.

Carolyn Drake
New Kashgar. Kashgar, China  
2011
30.48 x 20.32 cm
Digital Light Jet print
©Carolyn Drake 2012

.

Ernst Haas. 'New Orleans, USA' 1960

.

Ernst Haas
New Orleans, USA,
1960
Chromogenic archival print
50 x 35 cm
©Ernst Haas Estate, New York

.

Helen Levitt. 'Cat next to red car, New York' 1973

.

Helen Levitt
Cat next to red car, New York,
1973
Type C prints
18 x 12 inches
© Estate of Helen Levitt

.

Jeff Mermelstein. 'Untitled (Package Pile Up, New York City)' 1995

.

Jeff Mermelstein
Untitled (Package Pile Up, New York City)
1995
Chromogenic print
©Jeff Mermelstein
Courtesy Rick Wester Fine Art, New York

.

.

“Positive View Foundation announces its inaugural exhibition Cartier-Bresson: A Question of Colour, to be held at Somerset House, 8 November 2012 – 27 January 2013. Curated by William A. Ewing, the exhibition will feature 10 Henri Cartier-Bresson photographs never before exhibited in the UK alongside over 75 works by 15 international contemporary photographers, including: Karl Baden (US), Carolyn Drake (US), Melanie Einzig (US), Andy Freeberg (US), Harry Gruyaert (Belgium), Ernst Haas (Austrian), Fred Herzog (Canadian), Saul Leiter (US), Helen Levitt (US), Jeff Mermelstein (US), Joel Meyerowitz (US), Trent Parke (Australian), Boris Savelev (Ukranian), Robert Walker (Canadian), and Alex Webb (US).

The extensive showcase will illustrate how photographers working in Europe and North America adopted and adapted the master’s ethos famously known as  ‘the decisive moment’ to their work in colour. Though they often departed from the concept in significant ways, something of that challenge remained: how to seize something that happens and capture it in the very moment that it takes place.

It is well-known that Cartier-Bresson was disparaging towards colour photography, which in the 1950s was in its early years of development, and his reasoning was based both on the technical and aesthetic limitations of the medium at the time. Curator William E. Ewing has conceived the exhibition in terms of, as he puts it, ‘challenge and response’. “This exhibition will show how Henri Cartier-Bresson, in spite of his skeptical attitude regarding the artistic value of colour photography, nevertheless exerted a powerful influence over photographers who took up the new medium and who were determined to put a personal stamp on it. In effect, his criticisms of colour spurred on a new generation, determined to overcome the obstacles and prove him wrong. A Question of Colour simultaneously pays homage to a master who felt that black and white photography was the ideal medium, and could not be bettered, and to a group of photographers of the 20th and 21st centuries who chose the path of colour and made, and continue to make, great strides.”

Cartier-Bresson: A Question of Colour will feature a selection of photographers whose commitment to expression in colour was – or is – wholehearted and highly sophisticated, and which measured up to Cartier-Bresson’s essential requirement that content and form were in perfect balance. Some of these artists were Cartier-Bresson’s contemporaries, like Helen Levitt, or even, as with Ernst Haas, his friends; others, such as Fred Herzog in Vancouver, knew the artist’s seminal work across vast distances; others were junior colleagues, such as Harry Gruyaert, who found himself debating colour ferociously with the master; and others still, like Andy Freeberg or Carolyn Drake, never knew the man first-hand, but were deeply influenced by his example.”

Press release from Somerset House website

.

Jeff Mermelstein. 'Unitled ($10 bill in mouth) New York City' 1992

.

Jeff Mermelstein
Unitled ($10 bill in mouth) New York City, 1992
1992
20 x 16 in.
Chromogenic Print
©Jeff Mermelstein
Courtesy Rick Wester Fine Art, New York

.

Joel Meyerowitz. 'Madison Avenue, New York City 1975

.

Joel Meyerowitz
Madison Avenue, New York City
1975
Archival Pigment Print
©Joel Meyerowitz 2012
Courtesy Howard Greenberg Gallery, NYC

.

Karl Baden. 'Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts' 2009

.

Karl Baden
Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts
2009
40.64 x 54.19 cm
Archival Inkjet
© Karl Baden

.

Trent Parke. 'Man Vomiting, Gerald #1' 2006

.

Trent Parke
Man Vomiting, Gerald #1
2006
Type C print
© Trent Parke
Courtesy Magnum Photos

.

Henri Cartier-Bresson. 'Brooklyn, New York' 1947

.

Henri Cartier-Bresson
Brooklyn, New York, 1947
1947
Gelatin silver print / printed in 2007
Image: 19.8 x 29.8 cm / Paper: 22.9 x 30.4 cm
© Henri Cartier-Bresson/Magnum Photos, Courtesy Fondation Henri Cartier-Bresson

.

Melanie Einzig. 'September 11th, New York' 2001

.

Melanie Einzig
September 11th, New York 2001
2001
21 x 33cm
Inkjet print
© Melanie Einzig 2012

.

.

Terrace Rooms & Courtyard Rooms, Somerset House
Strand, London, WC2R 1LA

Opening hours:
10am – 6pm daily

Somerset House website

LIKE ART BLART ON FACEBOOK

Back to top



Marcus Bunyan black and white archive: ‘Études’ 1994

Join 2,184 other followers

Follow Art_Blart on Twitter
Art Blart on Pinterest

Lastest tweets

Dr Marcus Bunyan

Dr Marcus Bunyan is an Australian artist and writer. His work explores the boundaries of identity and place. He writes the Art Blart blog which reviews exhibitions in Melbourne, Australia and posts exhibitions from around the world. He has a Dr of Philosophy from RMIT University, Melbourne and is currently studying a Master of Art Curatorship at The University of Melbourne.

January 2013
M T W T F S S
« Dec   Feb »
 123456
78910111213
14151617181920
21222324252627
28293031  

Archives

Categories


%d bloggers like this: