Henri Cartier-Bresson: MEXICO
Sergio Larrain: RETROSPEKTIVE
Exhibition: 25 Mar – 9 Jun 2014
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Henri Cartier-Bresson: MEXICO & Sergio Larrain: RETROSPEKTIVE
Exhibition: 25 March – 9 June, 2014
“We live in a privileged world. Just take a look around and you will notice the differences. But these privileges must be devoted to the service of something one believes in.” Henri Cartier-Bresson
They were pioneers of photojournalism. They were idealists with humanitarian standards: Henri Cartier-Bresson, Robert Capa, George Rodger, David Seymour and William Vandivert. After World War II, they founded Magnum Photos – to date the most prestigious photo agency worldwide.
In its series of documentary photography, the Kunstfoyer now features two members of Magnum Photos: the legendary Henri Cartier-Bresson (1908-2004) from France, with his snapshots taken on Mexican streets of the 1930s and 1960s, as well as Sergio Larrain (1931–2012) from Chile, whose life and work are still not widely known. This is the first time Larrain’s work is being shown in Germany in a wide-ranging retrospective.
Sergio Larrain and Henri Cartier-Bresson both favoured similar motives. Both were brought up as members of bourgeois families, but rebelled against their wealthy family background early on. Like many other artists and writers, they were interested in outsiders and outcasts, whom both admired for their authentic and genuine way of being. Cartier-Bresson’s recollections of his two trips to Mexico still remained vivid after many decades: “Mexico – what violence and passion!” While searching for the essence of humanity, he created very sensitive portraits of the milieus, always picturing the individuals in their natural grace and dignity enveloped with a poetic touch. His work is simultaneously fueled by his social commitment and aesthetic motivations. Dramatic lighting, intense shading, and experimental framing of image details are trademarks of these black and white shots showing street children, prostitutes or beggars. These so-called outsiders are fascinating in their varied range of gestures and facial expressions. Sergio Larrain joined the agency Magnum Photos in 1961, by recommendation of his friend Henri Cartier-Bresson. But among his famous colleagues, this reserved and introspective Chilean never really felt at ease. Furthermore, he couldn’t cope with the journalistic assignments that came with the job. After doing very exhausting reports on the war in Algeria, the marriage of the Shah of Persia, as well as the Sicilian mafia, he went back to Chile in 1963. He lived there during the military dictatorship, kept working as a correspondent for Magnum and led a secluded and spiritual life.
The restrospective dedicated to Sergio Larrain was curated by Agnès Sire for the Fondation Henri Cartier-Bresson in Paris. It showcasts Larrain’s photographic images taken from 1950–1963 in Chile, Bolivia, Argentina, Peru, Sicily, London and Paris, as well as his related work of spiritual drawings and writings. In addition, the Kunstfoyer is also displaying Henri Cartier-Bresson’s “Mexican diary”. By placing these bodies of work side by side, significant parallels as well as differences between their aesthetic designs become apparent.