This is titled ‘Behind the Gare Saint-Lazare’ (1932), which

photograph was made by Henri Cartier-Bresson (1908-2004).  It is titled ‘Behind the Gare Saint-Lazare’ (1932),
which is a Railway Station in Paris. The image was taken with a 35mm Leica
Camera using a 50mm lens. The picture was printed in black and white on Gelatin
Silver Print paper, the dimensions of the photograph are (35.2 x 24.1 cm).  It shows a man jumping, we also see the shape
of the man’s legs echoed in the clock face, the acrobat in the poster and the
inverted ‘V’ shapes of the roof tops.  The
advertisements in the background give the feeling of a gritty urban environment
and the natural skylight using a black and white lens add texture and light to
the dark tones in the photograph.  There
is a matching of geometric form in the reflection of the leap and the fences
giving the sense of movement and visual rhythm whilst the rooftops are
stabilising the form of the picture. Cartier-Bresson has captured a ‘decisive
moment’ and frozen time.It is
influential for other photographers to understand ‘The decisive moment’ as it
is an understanding that in every event there will be a moment that makes a
photograph work.  It can help us to
capture a unique, fleeting, and meaningful moment.  In every action, you have a fraction of a
second to get everything right. Cartier-Bresson said, ‘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 organisation of forms which give that event
its proper expression’.   The1930’s
was a highly creative era with new technologies that could capture
movement.  What makes the photograph captivating
is that the movement is frozen using a fast shutter speed something that was
very new to camera technology in this period.  Much of Cartier-Bresson’s work is associated
with the avant-garde, modernist movements after the first world war when art
forms were becoming more visually dynamic, there was a new fast paced
environment, modern motion was being celebrated.   ‘The Gare Saint-Lazare: Arrival of a train
painted by Claude Monet in 1877 is iconic because the artist depicts signs of
the industrial revolution – an event that forever changed European society and
was the cause of fundamental changes in European life including the arts,
having an impact on Cartier-Bresson’s own artistic development and choice of
location for the photograph. It was on
seeing a photograph taken by Martin Munkacsi (1896-1963) titled “Three Boys at
Lake Tanganyika” (1930) that Cartier-Bresson quoted it was “the only photograph
to ever influence me”.  This image was
also taken on a 35mm camera, a new generation of cameras being used by photojournalists
in the 1930’s.  The style, form and
texture within this image have a striking similarity to the ‘Behind the Gare
St-Lazare’. “I suddenly understood that a photograph could fix eternity in an instant”
said Cartier -Bresson.

Cartier-Bresson went on to establish photojournalism as an art
form, he had a fast, detailed obsessed style that helped to chart the course for
all modern photography.  His work
continues to inspire new generations of photographers and will do so to until
the end of time. 

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