Museo dell´Ara Pacis, Rome

Museo dell'Ara Pacis | Lungotevere in Augusta
00186 Rome

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press release

From 26 September 2014 to 25 January 2015, the Ara Pacis Museum of Rome will host a retrospective exhibition of Henri Cartier-Bresson, curated by Clément Chéroux. This large exposition is a production of the Pompidou Centre of Paris. It is promoted by Roma Capitale Assessorato alla Cultura, Creatività e Promozione Artistica - Sovrintendenza Capitolina ai Beni Culturali, produced by Contrasto and Zètema Progetto Cultura, and proposed on the ten-year anniversary of Henri Cartier-Bresson’s death.

Compositional skill, extraordinary visual intuition, and the ability to seize upon the most fleeting but also most important moments, made Henri Cartier-Bresson (1908 – 2004) one of the greatest photographers of the twentieth century. Throughout his career, while travelling the world and witnessing history’s greatest moments, Cartier-Bresson was always able to unite poetry with the power of documentation. From Surrealism to the Cold War, from the Spanish Civil War to the Second World War and Decolonization, Cartier-Bresson was one of the greatest chronicles of our history; the “eye of the century”, as he is rightly called.

His work falls into three great periods. The first, from 1926 to 1935, when Cartier-Bresson socializes with the Surrealists, takes his first steps in photography and goes on his first voyages. The second, from 1936 to 1946, is defined by his involvement in politics, his work for the Communist press and his experience in filmmaking. The third, from 1947 to 1970, covers the period after the founding of Magnum Photos agency to his retirement from photo reporting.

The exhibition presents a new reading of the immense body of photographic work left by Cartier-Bresson. The exposition is the product of extensive research and covers the great photographer’s entire professional career.

It offers a dual vision. On the one hand, it traces the genesis of Cartier-Bresson’s work by illustrating the evolution of his artistic path in all of its complexity and variety. At the same time, it brings together and “paints” the history of the 20th century, through the eyes of a photographer.

Over 500 items including period photographs, drawings, paintings, films and manuscripts, his most famous images and those less known, and rare and unedited documents are brought together providing an in-depth picture of the extraordinary work of this great photographer and chronicler of our times.

The exhibition is accompanied by a catalogue edited by Contrasto with essays by scholars and experts, and unedited texts by Cartier-Bresson. In addition to the catalogue, an easy-to-follow guide to the exhibition is also provided.