By descent to George Lynes, the photographer's nephew
Howard Greenberg Gallery, New York, 2005
Henri Cartier-Bresson, The Decisive Moment (New York, 1952), pl. 13
Peter Galassi, Henri Cartier-Bresson: The Early Work (The Museum of Modern Art, 1987), p. 108
Documentary & Anti-Graphic Photographs by Cartier-Bresson, Walker Evans & Manuel Álvarez Bravo (Göttingen, 2004), p. 105
Robert Delpire, et al., Henri Cartier-Bresson: Photographer (Boston, 1979), pl. 90
Jean-Pierre Montier, Henri Cartier-Bresson and the Artless Art (Boston, 1996), pl. 14
Platt Lynes and Cartier-Bresson’s connection was Julien Levy, who had given Cartier-Bresson his first New York showing in 1933, and then featured him, along with Walker Evans and Manuel Álvarez Bravo, in the revolutionary Documentary & Anti-Graphic exhibition of 1935. George Platt Lynes’s work was included in no less than five shows at the Levy Gallery in the 1930s, among them a one-man show—Fifty Photographs by George Platt Lynes—in 1934. His studio was near Levy’s gallery at 602 Madison Avenue.
The spontaneity of Cartier-Bresson’s pictures belies the precision with which they were taken. Before taking photographs, he immersed himself in the life and culture of a locale, as he did in Spain for three months in the summer of 1933. His hand-held Leica gave him agility and speed, but he was deliberate in his picture-taking. As he described it, he waited and watched for the moment that would ‘trap life—to preserve life in the act of living . . . I craved to seize, in the confines of one single photograph, the whole essence of some situation that was in the process of unrolling itself before my eyes’ (The Mind’s Eye, p. 22).
It is believed that Seville and its variant—called ‘enfants maison en demolition à Seville’ on Cartier-Bresson’s manuscript list of the photographs he sent to Levy—were included in his first show at the Julien Levy Gallery in 1933, and again in the Documentary & Anti-Graphic exhibition of 1935. It is possible that the print offered here was made in New York City. Prints from this early period of Cartier-Bresson’s career are scarce. As Cartier-Bresson authority Peter Galassi has described it, ‘In the early 1930s, Cartier-Bresson made his own prints but he did not make a great many, since his audience at the time was small. The great majority of surviving prints were made for exhibition at the Julien Levy Gallery; a few others were gifts to friends’ (Henri Cartier-Bresson: The Early Work, p. 143).
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