Henri Cartier-Bresson China Exhibition

Henri Cartier-Bresson China Exhibition

In less than 2 weeks, the “Henri Cartier-Bresson: China 1948-1949 / 1958” exhibition opens. The highly-anticipated show opens Paris from October 15 to February 2. It follows Henri Cartier-Bresson’s two remarkable trips around China. The topic is especially resonate because October 1st, 2019 marked the 70-year anniversary of the People’s Republic of China.

The last time I was in Paris, I had the a9 and Sigma lenses with me.

It was a wonderful time.

Henri Cartier-Bresson China Exhibition
Henri Cartier-Bresson China Exhibition provided by Fondaton HCB

This show is important because these photos haven’t been seen in public before. The Fondation HCB is devoting its new space entirely to the photographs. The show is an unprecedented account of two key moments in China’s history. First, the fall of Kuomintang. Second, the establishment of the Communist regime (1948-1949) and Mao Zedong’s “Great Leap Forward” (1958).

The exhibition at the Fondation HCB brings together 114 original prints from 1948-1949, 40 prints from 1958, and many archive documents.

Henri Cartier-Bresson: Chine 1948-1949 / 1958 Description

The show runs from October 15th to February 2nd 2020. Here’s the description of it from the press kit I received…..

On 25 November 1948, Henri Cartier-Bresson was commissioned by Life magazine to shoot a story on the “last days of Beijing.” He was to do so before the arrival of the Maoist troops. Having been gone for two weeks, he would stay for ten months, mainly in the Shanghai area, witnessing the fall of the city of Nanjing held by Kuomintang. He was then forced to stay in Shanghai under Communist control for four months, leaving China a few days before the proclamation of the People’s Republic of China (October 1 1949).

This lengthy stay in China proved is a seminal moment in the history of photojournalism. This reportage series came at the beginning of the Magnum Photos agency, which Henri Cartier-Bresson had co-founded eighteen months earlier in New York, and brought a new, less event-based, more poetic and detached style, attentive as much to the people as to the balance of the composition. A great many of these photos remain among the most famous in photography (such as “Gold Rush in Shanghai”).

In 1958, as the tenth anniversary drew near, Henri Cartier-Bresson set off again on a journey of discovery, yet under completely different conditions: constrained by a guide who accompanied him for four months, he travelled thousands of kilometers on the launch of the “Great Leap Forward” to report on the results of the Revolution and the forced industrialization of rural areas.

Also, see one of my favorite photos from Paris below. I’ll be at another event in October, but will think of this remarkable exhibit and wish I was there.

Paris 18 with an a9
Paris 18 with an a9


My daily shooter is Sony A1 with a vertical grip and various Sony lenses attached like the FE 20mm F1.8. Find more gear recommendations in our shop. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.