I think just about everyone needs a mental health break these days, and with Covid restrictions still putting a damper on our social lives, the art museums in Seoul have been a nice momentary escape from the ongoing chaos that has rampaged through 2022… Momotherose blog, Seoul, Korea
From 26 September 2019 to 2 February 2020
The exhibition “Henri Cartier-Bresson : The Decisive Moment” is on display at the Seoul Art Center Hangaram Design Museum, Seoul, from 26 September 2019 to 2 February 2020, in collaboration with Magnum Photos and the Fondation HCB.
Although HCB is known to have been an avid traveler, the essence of his work remained steadfastly Parisian. Indeed, it was in Paris, after studying painting alongside André Lhote in the Montparnasse quarter during the late 1920s, that HCB took up photography: “the first photographs I saw were those of Atget and Keretsz,” he notes. He secured, over time, his own distinctive photographic style, one inscribed in “a realm of imagination but modelled after life” (l’imaginaire d’après nature).
Endlessly roaming through the streets of Paris, HCB snatched away fleeting scenes, at their decisive moment. In these same streets, he would witness the unfolding of significant historical events such as the Liberation of Paris in August 1944 or the student riots of May 1968, while also commissioned by newspapers and magazines to cover various events such as the “six days of Paris” cycle race in November 1957 for the French periodical, Paris Match.
It was also in Paris that, during the thirties, his encounters with Robert Capa and David Seymour blossomed into friendships, which proved decisive to his lifework. Shortly after the three friends launched the Magnum Photo Agency, in 1947, HCB undertook a three-year journey through the Far East. His photographs taken mostly in India and China, would soon appear in magazines across the world, including Life, Illustrated, and Paris Match. Some of them quickly acquired iconic status, marking a crowning moment in HCB’s career.
This exhibition, whose starting point is the book Paris à vue d’oeil, edited by Lothar Schirmer in 1994, is not a sociological study, but is oriented towards what a man, who considered “photography as lying somewhere between the art of the pickpocket and that of the funambulist,” thought was most important: “the flânerie of the gaze in a state of total and willing openness.”
HANAGARAM ART MUSEUM, SEOUL ARTS CENTER
The Hangaram Art Museum is a modern art museum located at the Seoul Arts Center. It is situated at the center’s left wing and it was specifically designed as a large open space to accommodate large-scale artworks and art installations. The museum has exhibition halls, an art library and an art shop. As the museum is part of the Seoul Arts Center complex, the center’s many arts programs are often hosted at the Hangaram Art Museum. A design market takes place at the museum as well.
This year will mark the 70th anniversary of when the famous French photographer Henri Cartier-Bresson, penned the book “The Decisive Moment” or “Images a la Sauvette” (Images on the Run) in 1952. The Decisive Moment will be on view at the Hangaram Art Museum (2406 Nambusunhwan-ro, Seocho-gu, Seoul) from June 10th, 2022 to October 22nd, 2022.
Henri Cartier-Bresson, The Decisive Moment (Verve, 1952), cover © Collections Fondation Henri Cartier-Bresson