Alberto Giacometti, Galerie Maeght, Paris

In this, perhaps the most well-known and certainly most amusing image from Henri Cartier-Bresson’s series of photographs of Alberto Giacometti, the photographer captures Giacometti preparing the installation of his comprehensive May, 1961 exhibition at Galerie Maeght, Paris. Seen among the works are two of the great pieces of the period, a “Grande Femme Debout” and a “L’Homme Qui Marche.”

The present photograph was given by Cartier-Bresson to renowned curator and museum director James Johnson Sweeney in the early-1960s. Not only was the photographer a Sweeney family friend but the subject matter was particularly apt: in addition to being a collector of Giacometti’s work Sweeney was also responsible for bringing pieces by the sculptor into the collection of the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York where he was director from 1952-1960.

Signature: With the stamps: © H. Cartier-Bresson, magnum; Photograph by Henri Cartier-Bresson © 1962 Magnum Photos and Magnum Courtesy Print Not For Reproduction on the reverse

“A Touch of Greatness: Giacometti,” The Queen, May 1, 1962, illustration of another print of this image p. 30
Yves Bonnefoy, Henri Cartier-Bresson: Photographer, New York, 1979, illustration of another print of this image p. 118
Yves Bonnefoy, Alberto Giacometti: a Biography of his Work, Paris, 1991, no. 577, illustration of another print of this image p. 558
Angela Schneider, Alberto Giacometti: Sculpture, Paintings, Drawings, New York, 1994, illustration of another print of this image cover
Jean-Pierre Montier, Henri Cartier-Bresson: l’Art sans Art, Paris, 1995, illustration of another print of this image p. 73
Phillipe Arbaizar et. al, Henri Cartier-Bresson: De Qui S’Agit-il?, Paris, 2003, illustration of another print of this image p. 171
Henri Cartier-Bresson: the Man, the Image and the World, a Retrospective, Biblioteque National de France, Paris, 2003, illustration of another print of this image pl. 218
Henri Cartier-Bresson: Collection Sam, Lilette et Sebastien Szafran, Fondation Pierre Gianadda, Martigny, Switzerland, 2005, no. 84, illustration of another print of this image cover and pp. 122 and 123
Tobia Bezzola, Henri Cartier-Bresson and Alberto Giacometti: La Decision de l’Oeil/the Decision of the Eye, Kunsthaus, Zurich, 2005, cat. 3, illustration of another print of this image p. 35
Peter Galassi, Henri Cartier-Bresson: the Modern Century, the Museum of Modern Art, New York, 2010, reproduction of the photo-essay from The Queen p. 54

James Johnson Sweeney, New York (directly from the artist, early-1960s)
Thence by descent

About Henri Cartier-Bresson

Upon picking up a Leica camera in the early 1930s, Henri Cartier-Bresson fell in love with the spontaneity of photography and went on to pioneer photojournalism. MoMA credits his “uncanny ability to capture life on the run” with helping to define the creative potential of modern photography and lauds him as “the keenest observer of the global theater of human affairs.” Taking pride in capturing “the decisive moment,“ Cartier-Bresson intimately captured portraits and scenes, both mundane and historic, around the world. In 1947, he formed Magnum Photos, a photography cooperative, with Robert Capa and others. Over the ensuing three decades, assignments took him from Ghandi’s funeral in India, to the chaotic streets of Shanghai during China’s Communist revolution, to Queen Charlotte’s elegant ball in London. “To take a photograph is to align the head, the eye and the heart. It's a way of life,” he said.

French, 1908-2004, Chanteloup, France