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As one thinks about the great photographers of the past thirty or forty years, one may think of Annie Leibovitz or the late Robert Mapplethorpe. If one is asked about the great photographers of the past hundred years, one name immediately comes to mind: Henri Cartier-Bresson. Cartier-Bresson passed away this past Monday at age 95, leaving behind an amazing body of work that captured the zeitgeist of most of the 20th century through both his numerous impromptu photographs of various storied personages and the commonplace pace of everyday life across the world. Cartier-Bresson was born in Chateloup, France to a wealthy textile family, and started his career in the visual arts with a strong interest in painting. He began his career in photography in 1930, and quickly began a series of photo expeditions to Poland, Austria, Germany, and the French Ivory Coast. Throughout his long career, his conception of photography was centered around "the decisive moment," which he felt to be that very moment which evoked the ultimate significance of a given situation. As he once remarked, in one of his rare interviews: "In whatever one does, there must be a relationship between the eye and the heart." While he garnered a good deal of his acclaim from his work in international exhibitions and numerous publications (such as Harpers' Bazaar), Cartier-Bresson also made two documentary films which were well-received. Commenting on his recent passing later in the week, John Morris, a lifelong friend and editor of Magnum Photos, remarked that "He was perhaps the greatest photographer of the 20th century."The first link leads to a news piece from this week's Wednesday online edition of The Guardian about Cartier-Bresson's life and work. The second link leads to a helpful timeline offered by the BBC News website that highlights some aspects of his long career. The third link will take visitors to a remarkable audio program from National Public Radio from July 3, 2003, that includes a brief interview with Cartier-Bresson and also offers a number of links to related sites, such as online photo galleries and a brief biography. The fourth link leads to a fine online photo gallery from the Washington Post that draws on a 1999-2000 exhibit held at the National Portrait Gallery. Here visitors can see nice examples of his art, including photos of Robert Oppenheimer, Louis Kahn, and the iconic New Englander and poet, Robert Lowell. The fifth link leads to a remarkable retrospective of Cartier-Bresson's work, offered by Magnum Photos, and includes a number of shots from his early work in Spain and France from the 1930s. The final link will take visitors to yet another online gallery of his work, this time from the Peter Fetterman gallery, There are a number of lesser-known finds here as well, including his 1947 photograph of "Joe," a Chicago paperboy underneath the city's storied Loop elevated train and the more somber photograph of the funeral of a kabuki actor from 1965.
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