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Phillips to host dedicated Henri Cartier-Bresson photography sale

Phillips is set to host an auction dedicated to the work of legendary photographer Henri Cartier-Bresson.
‘Henri Cartier-Bresson: The Eye of the Century’ will take place in New York on December 12, and features 120 works from the collection of Cartier-Bresson’s last dealer, Peter Fetterman.

Cartier-Bresson helped pioneer the genre of street photography, never planning any of his photographs, and pioneered the idea of "the decisive moment" in which to capture an image.

"There is a creative fraction of a second when you are taking a picture," he told the Washington Post in 1957. "Your eye must see a composition or an expression that life itself offers you, and you must know with intuition when to click the camera.

"That is the moment the photographer is creative. Oop! The Moment! Once you miss it, it is gone forever."

Simiane-la-Rotande, France, 1969

Cartier-Bresson was also one of the founders of the Magnum Photo Agency, and his photojournalism covering events such as Gandhi’s funeral and the Chinese Civil war regularly appeared in publications such as LIFE magazine.

Peter Fetterman worked closely with Cartier-Bresson from 1990 until his death in 2004, and his collection features a jnumber of rarely seen images spanning three decades of his career.

"Peter Fetterman played a vital role in expanding Henri Cartier-Bresson’s audience in the United States," said Vanessa Hallett, Phillips’ Worldwide Head of Photographs.

"A great deal of Cartier-Bresson’s works have become instantly recognizable, and in addition to those images, there are many photographs in Mr. Fetterman’s collection that have rarely been seen.

"These stunning images span over three decades of the artist’s career and were taken throughout his travels across the globe. They beautifully capture the aesthetic of the ‘decisive moment’ that defines his oeuvre."

Martine Franck, Paris, 1967

The collection includes photographs capture by Cartier-Bresson during his travels in India, France, Japan and the U.S; portraits of influential figures such as Malcolm X, Marilyn Monroe, and Truman Capote; and his groundbreaking behind-the-scenes images of the Bolshoi Ballet in Moscow.

"Henri Cartier-Bresson was my hero, the man who inadvertently changed my life when I purchased a print of his image Srinagar over 40 years ago," said Fetterman. "This ‘decisive moment’ set me on a new personal and professional path which continues today.

"The images in this auction are the culmination of a 40 year journey of collecting his work. These objects have given me great pleasure and a unique understanding of the world and I am happy to pass them on to the next generation."

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