Cartier-Bresson’s work of the early 1930s is one of the great innovative episodes of modern art. It belongs to a world in which Surrealism was still a fresh adventure, before the worst of the Great Depression, before the rise of Fascism and the demise of Republican Spain, and before the Nazi occupation of France and Cartier-Bresson’s own harsh experience of World War II.
Things were very different after the war—and so was Cartier-Bresson. He found in photojournalism a productive framework for his passionate engagement with the rapidly changing world. The pictures in this section are typical of his new style; each frames a small group of characters in a scene of stunning simplicity.