CARTIER-BRESSON, Henri. The Decisive Moment. New York: Simon and Schuster with Éditions Verve Paris, (1952). (ASSOCIATION COPY)

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The Decisive Moment.
New York: Simon and Schuster with Éditions Verve Paris, (1952).

Folio (360 × 269 mm), pp.[164] (including endleaves). 126 black-and-white photographs printed in gravure. Text by Cartier-Bresson, afterword by Richard L. Simon. Printed white paper-covered boards illustrated after a design by Matisse in black, blue and green; some splitting to joints, moderate toning to spine, light soiling to boards, light toning and wear to board edges. Dust-jacket printed in silk screen in imitation of boards; lightly toned, occasional light spotting, light wear to edges, light soiling to spine, split to spine folds expertly repaired, chip to head of spine and to top outer corner offront panel, with an additional piece missing between title and publisher details, light wear to edges. Laid in as issued is the saddle-stapled 12pp caption booklet (317 × 238 mm). Book inscribed by Cartier-Bresson in black ink opposite title-page. A very good copy with an excellent association.

First American edition, issued simultaneously with the French, though it is largely the publication of this work in the United States that established Cartier-Bresson’s reputation internationally. This copy is inscribed by Cartier-Bresson:

‘To Dick Schuler / who gets brilliance out of / our darkness / Henri for Magnum / HCB’.

The recipient Richard ‘Dick’ Schuler was a German emigre photographer and printer, and principal at Compo Photo-Color (Compo Photo Service inc.), a photographic lab in New York City who specialised in making exhibition prints and large photo-murals. Compo were responsible for printing a number of important exhibitions including Edward Steichen’s ‘The Family of Man’ in 1955 at the Museum of Modern Art, who frequently used the firm to make large exhibition prints.

In his preface Cartier-Bresson writes ‘To me, photography is the simultaneous recognition, in a fraction of a second, of the significance of an event as well as of a precise organization of forms which give that event its proper expression… if the shutter was released at the decisive moment, you have instinctively fixed a geometric pattern without which the photograph would have been both formless and lifeless.’

After 1946 Cartier-Bresson ceased printing his own photographs, preferring to spend his time taking photographs or drawing. Instead he relied on a series of expert printers whose work he would strictly supervise. In 1966 Cartier-Bresson retired from active participation in Magnum Photos, the cooperative agency he had co-founded in 1947.

Roth A., The Book of 101 Books: Seminal Photographic Books of the Twentieth Century p.134–5; Parr, M. and Badger, G., The Photobook: A History vol.I pp.208–9; Roth, A., The Open Book: A History of the Photographic Book from 1878 to the Present pp.154–5. [Images à la Sauvette] Sinibaldi, A. and Couturier, J-L., Regards sur un siècle de photographie à travers Le Livre (99); Auer, M. and M., 802 photo books from the M + M Auer collection p.343.


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