I saw this exhibition at Somerset House London last Thursday, It was pointed out to me by another blogger, who had nothing but high praise for it. The title; “Henri Cartier Bresson – a Question of Colour” holds that name that carries a certain type of weight which may or may not be problematic. I should point out while I respect Henri Cartier Bressons position in the history of photography, I have yet to be totally thrilled by his work. (Is this photography heresy?)
This show plays with the fact Cartier Bresson was unimpressed by colour (yes, I know he did use it on occaision) as a medium for photography. Personally I am passionate about colour photography, perhaps this is one of the reasons I haven’t given him much time.
However “A Question of Colour” is deftly curated to challenge Cartier-Bressons perception of colour, the show presents Cartier Bresson black and white prints (previously unseen in the UK) that display his command of illustrating form, then show those who have been influenced by his work using colour in creative, sorry, exceptionally creative ways. Interestingly this has been put together as a positive. Reinforcing Cartier Bressons influence, and the practice of using colour. Nice.
This is an amazing collection for me in many ways. I am familiar with Saul Leiter, Fred Herzog, Trente Parke (above), Joel Meyerowitz – but it has altered the context of other photographers I know Carolyn Drake, Helen Levitt, and introduced me to some who I can see myself admiring for some time to come, particularly Boris Savelev and Harry Gruyaert. These are truly sophisticated images, rich and descriptive in their use of colour and tone.
My wallet, usually full of dust and cobwebs, was gleefully prized opened to buy a copy of the book that came with this show. The shop assistant told me it had sold out over a week before. SO thats over two weeks before the end of the show? Testimony to how people have enjoyed it, and enough to warrant a reprint… please?
When I saw this show I became really excited, its obvious this is similar to something I am reaching for with my shots, well those that are like this. Which is why, for me, this is the most successful exhibition of the last twelve months. So I emailed the curator, William E. Ewing, to tell him how impressed I was- he mailed back to say hello. Charming fellow.
The show closes this Sunday! But it is free…
If your image is hotlinked above and you’re not happy about it let me know…