HCB's Leica, Paris, April 2010.
Getting stranded in Paris during last week's volcanic ash air space crisis had one grace note for me: I was able to visit Fondation Henri Cartier-Bresson, the modest gallery established in 2003 by Cartier-Bresson's wife, Martine Franck, and their daughter, Mélanie, to preserve the legacy of the master photographer's work. The foundation is tucked away in an alley off rue Lebouis in Montaparnasse, housed in a four-story artist's atelier that was built in 1912.
Two floors of the building house exhibition galleries that sponsor three shows a year. I was able to catch the last day of an exhibition of Robert Doisneau's Paris photographs, Du métier à l'oeurve. Doisneau's charm and sense of humor are on full display in this collection of 100 pictures of everyday suburban life in post-war Paris. The catalog of the show has been published in a new book by Steidl Press, entitled From Craft to Art.
Up a spiral staircase on the third floor, in an airy room framed by a large atrium window and outfitted with Corbusier chairs, a few pictures by Cartier-Bresson are on permanent display. Here, films and multimedia presentations about the photographer are screened daily. It is a room to relax in, and for this ardent admirer of HCB, a room to ponder the serendipitous way that he has found himself in it.