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HCB exhibit at MOMA


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<p>I haven't but I did get a chance to look at the massive book that was published as part of the exhibit. The Peter Fetterman gallery in Santa Monica will be having a showing of a number of HCB's works later this month. HCB is one photographer who for a long time I didn't "get". Sure there were some photographs of his I liked, but not enough for me to understand his high stature in the photo world. This book along with a different book showing his work along side Walker Evans exposed (no pun intended) me to his lesser known work. For some reason, this lesser known work I like much better then his more famous works. It seemed as if before every book on HCB I could find all had the same photographs in them, the ones that really didn't do much for me.</p>
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<p>I went to meet a man named 'Henry' at the behest of a fellow worker at Associated Press just after I was hired there in San Francisco as a photographer in about 1969 or so. 'Henry is showing some pictures as the De Young Museum over on Van Ness (Ave., San Francisco) my colleague, AP writer Jimmy White told me. He was an 'old China hand like me and we met there and worked together for a while'.<br>

'Your photos remind me very much of my old buddy 'Henry's' he said to me. So off I went.<br>

Well, I did go to meet 'Henry' who was 'showing some pictures' at what turned out to be a huge exhibition that filled the De Young Museum, S.F.'s largest, and now I have faint recollection of even physically meeting this unknown man and even shaking Henry's hand (Henri C-B), not having the faintest idea who he was.<br>

But when I went inside the museum and saw his photos, not assuming he was any more than a good enough photographer to get exhibited, I was stunned and overwhelmed by his photos, both by their quality and by their breadth, both spanning the world and human experience as well as their sheer number -- photo after stunning photo in room after room, all large prints and printed masterfully. <br>

I was both amazed, my heart could hardly stop fluttering at witnessing such greatness, and at the same time I was entirely dejected.<br>

How could I ever hope to compete?<br>

I was in my first days at AP, and was waiting for my photographer 'slot' to open, and just announced on my return to work 'take my name off the photographer list', and after discussion settled in while they trained me on the job to be a writer (on the job training consisted of them giving me a clip board with the previous day's stories, some notes gathered by the editor, some phone numbers, a desk, a typewriter, an AP 'style book', a telephone, and the instructions 'make some calls kid, take some notes, then write a story'. <br>

I must have done OK my first day because the second day I wrote more and one of those stories went world wide and another hit front pages around the US.<br>

I never did end up taking those photos as an official AP photographer, though when I was transferred to Reno, I did end up writing and taking photos that did take front pages from time to time (against union rules, as writers were not supposed to take photos -- it was strictly forbidden, then got transferred to NYC as a photo editor, and ended up before I left as world service photo editor waiting for my almost-ready-to-retire-department head to retire so I could have his job (and a promsie from the General Manager to back me for his job later on). <br>

I just walked away - a cheap outfit. Great credentials but poooor salary, even if I did get to work with Pulitzer Prize winning greats from time to time. Sal Vader (San Francisco), Horst Faas, Eddie Adams, etc.).<br>

I simply gave up any professional aspirations, but from my very, very brief shake-hands meeting with Henry the mystery photographer that day and viewing his greatness (and realizing it) I bought his book 'The World of Henry Cartier-Bresson' which lay mostly at my bedside or nearby for about 30 years, and at which I lovingly and admiringly leaf through from time to time, always admiring and, yes, envying.<br>

I did not know that (1) the old guy was retiring then and his exhibition touring was his swan song from photography, to finance his retirement to paingint and drawing. and (2) that if I had not gone to the exhibition I could possibly have 'made it' in photography, since he was not 'just an ordinary but skilled photographer' as I figured, but as Charley Rose and Richard Avedon agreed, he was 'one of the ten greatest artists of the 20th Century' (source, U-Tube, Charley Rose Interview with Richard Avedon, prelude to nearly hour-long interview with Cartier-Bresson, now no longer on U-Tube because of copyright restrictions.)<br>

At that exhibition, one could buy a Cartier-Bresson print, and have him sign it on the spot, for $100 or $150 minimum for lesser known works to about $300 or $350 for his most collectible works, which compared to my weekly salary of $145 pre-tax.<br>

How I lusted after some of his works and regretted I never could have afforded them!<br>

Especially now that better works sell in the tens of thousands.<br>

Henry's mere existence and his greatness changed the direction of my life. <br>

And took the wind out of my photographic sails just as I was 'getting good'.<br>

john<br>

John (Crosley)<br>

(wistfully)</p>

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<p>Mark Todd,<br>

Me and 'Henry': Part II<br>

HCB's photography left quite an impression on me. It literally caused me to give up what I had planned for a career.<br>

Physically meeting the man left absolutely no impression at all; I actually forgot for decades that meeting, and only recently dredged it from my long-lost memory.<br>

I had never heard of Cartier-Bresson then, at the tender age of 22, and when I very, very briefly met him just to shake his hand to enter his exhibit, had no inkling of who he was, and gave it no moment at all. <br>

But on viewing the enormity of his lifetime best, displayed in room after room of San Francisco's best and most prestigious museum (at the time) I was overwhelmed. I wanted to own those fabulous photos, and, worse, I had been compared by his friend who referred me to them as having photos (then) that reminded him of those taken by his 'friend Henry'.<br>

If I kept on in the same style, I would just be a Cartier-Bresson wannabe or a photographer 'of the school of' HCB and not someone (as I previously thought) who was doing something quite different, or at least 'all my own'.<br>

Now I don't care. <br>

I started posting just before Cartier-Bresson died at age 94, [2004] but had no idea he was quitting photography with that exhibit in about 1969. If I had known, I might have changed my plans -- I'm always the last to know. <br>

However, I have had a pretty interesting life, and still get to take photographs at a time about when he started to think about retiring, and I'm going strong and getting stronger every day.<br>

He was formally trained in art (and had a strong philosophical bent -- Communist-Socialist inclined though never formally a Communist card holder, and a member also of one of France's 200 richest families, a living contradiction - a self-hating rich person?) I never had a class in photography, just bought a camera one day, and from my first roll of film took a photo that when I joined Photo.net later put up for display and now has over 50,000 'views' -- from my FIRST ROLL OF FILM (three men on Staten Island Ferry Boat), and it's also stolen quite frequently by blogs.<br>

Other than a semester 'art appreciation' course required of all students at Columbia College, Columbia University, I never had an art course, and never, ever, even until a year or so ago, thought of myself as an artist. <br>

Now I'm being encouraged to museums of the highest quality and same for photo AND art gallery exhibitions, and now am making final arrangements for same. I would have called you crazy -- Loony Tunes -- five years ago if you ever had suggested that was in my future.<br>

Like Marlon Brando in 'On the Waterfront' 'I might have been sombody' in photography until I ran across this man's work, and, thinking him an 'ordinary and talented photographer (not one of the world's top ten artists of the Twentieth Century) I just gave up my photographic ambitions. <br>

Such hubris of my youth.<br>

It's sort of like a talented art student going to see a Picasso exhibition, then putting away his art materials and renouncing art, because he could not match up to the great one.<br>

Regrettably, information did not flow as freely in that time as it does now in the Internet Age, or I might easily have made a different choice. As it was, writing, photo editing, law school, law, and investing were in my future, and I've had a very rich and varied life and stilll get to share my photography with a vast worldwide audience, and have accumulated tens of millions of views just in a brief few years after resuming this art recently.<br>

I ain't crying.<br>

And my original style is still there plus the ability to 'see' about a thousand times better in between the more 'obvious' ones I could 'see' then'. <br>

Moreover, what used to be 'hot, sweaty, challenging work that caused me headaches' often as I tried to figure out how to take photos on the street, has disappeared into great ease, as I now shoot photo after photo, was absolute ease for almost every one, often predicting before it happens what subjects will do . . . and very often with great accuracy. <br>

That's a skill I think HCB had in abundance, and something I think we have shared.<br>

Moreover, I can shoot in color; he couldn't and famously tried to destroy all his color work because he never 'got it right' - he couldn't previsualize or coordinate in color, which is quite a different task than shooting in B&W. Color on the street is extraordinarily difficult to achieve and quite rare in my experience, but it does happen, and I never saw that in Cartier-Bresson's captures . . . . which were published in earlier years (before they started disappearing.)<br>

However, he also was one of the world's greatest portraitists and literally knew or was acquainted with nearly every major literarary, artistic, business, political, academic or other major figure in French and European history between the '30s and the '80s, as well as global figures from the near, far and middle east, and photographed them. Contrariwise, I eschew photographs of celebrities and the famous with one exception: Richard Nixon, caught as I walked to work one day for AP in two captures (on my own time). One photo (now shown here) appeared on front pages worldwide, and the other is on display here.<br>

Here's the worst part. <br>

When I joined PN, I had no recollection of having met HCB. Only after long recllection did I recall meeting a Frenchman photographer at the entrance to his exhibition and just recently realized it was THE MAN.<br>

Life's like that.<br>

Shake hands with the man who changes your life and have no inkling of the profoundness or even the stature of that man. (I guess I was sort of like the boy in the bubble then.)<br>

john<br>

John (Crosley)</p>

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