The twentieth century was that of the image, and the legendary photographer Henri Cartier-Bresson, born in 1908, was the eye of the century. Cartier-Bresson was always on the spot, recording historic events as they happened. His work focused on Mexico in the 1930s, the tragic fate of the Spanish Republicans, the liberation of Paris, the weariness of Gandhi a few hours before his assassination, and the victory of the Chinese Communists. It was he who fixed forever in our minds the features of famous contemporaries: Giacometti, Sartre, Faulkner, Camus, and others, their portraits captured for eternity at the decisive moment. An intensely private individual, Cartier-Bresson nonetheless took Pierre Assouline into his confidence over a number of years, discussing his youthful devotion to surrealism, his lifelong passion for drawing, his experience of war and the prison camps, his friends, and the women in his life. He even opened up his invaluable archives.
Pierre Assouline, a writer and journalist, has written biographies of Georges Simenon, Hergé, and others. He lives in Paris.