One of the top-ten photographers of the twentieth century, Henri Cartier-Bresson was the founder of and set the standard for modern photojournalism, snapping, with his handheld 35mm camera the “decisive moment” of an ongoing event on the fly, and depicting it with concentrated, concentric and dynamic composition. In this extravagant and overwhelming exhibition of 300 of Cartier-Bresson’s black-and-white images, endless instantaneous juxtapositions abound, yet the treasure of the show is his 1960 photo-documentary of working life in New York’s Bankers Trust Company. Here, with access granted to him in a closed organizational space, Cartier-Bresson had the ease to pre-meditate shots and showed that with time on his side he could capture the sense of the bank, from an executive with his nose in the air and a cigarette sprouting from his lips, through a deadly bored manager slumped in his chair, and secretaries and office boys more-or-less diligently about their business, to blue-collar grunt workers sustaining the infra-structure. The decisive moment can be piercing; the photo-documentary of a master is telling—anybody who has ever worked in a bureaucracy will immediately relate to Cartier-Bresson’s slices of life. (Michael Weinstein)
Through October 3 at the Art Institute of Chicago, 111 South Michigan.