Iconic Photos

Famous, Infamous and Iconic Photos

Seville | Henri Cartier-Bresson

with 5 comments

In 1932, Henri Cartier-Bresson set out on a tour of Southern Europe and the Maghreb; this journey with his 35 mm Leica was to be his formative tour that set out the rules of the art for not only the 25-year old photographer but also for a century of photojournalists who followed him.

In Seville in 1933, he took the photo above, later entitled, “Children Playing in Ruins”. Cartier-Bresson was always pithy in descriptions and it was not entirely clear where exactly in the city he took the photo, or how the ruins come to be. His contact sheets reveal that he chose the photos which were among the first he made on that occasion.

There is not much to write about this photo. His usual journalistic eye was at work, depicting youthful vigor sprouting out of decayed detritus. However, soon afterwards, the Spanish Civil War broke out, affecting many cities Cartier-Bresson passed through. Seville was where the first shots were fired, and the photo — with its ruined buildings and crippled children — became associated with the horrors of that war, even though it was made three years earlier.

Andre Breton, the surrealist who was among the first to use photographs in his books, used the photo to illustrate his chapter on the Spanish Civil War as early as 1937 in Mad Love. Many others followed, and even this author believed this was made in the aftermath of the war, not before it.   


Written by Alex Selwyn-Holmes

September 30, 2013 at 6:58 am

5 Responses

Subscribe to comments with RSS.

  1. His eye for composition was incredible. Look at the other photos on the contact sheet. None of them are “bad.” I also think the last one in the first column is interesting


    September 30, 2013 at 10:24 am

  2. I was under the impression that Cartier-Bresson shot very few shots of the same scene. Maybe this was more myth than reality.


    October 4, 2013 at 1:19 pm

    • 16 is not that many if you remember he was a professional journalist on assignment. This was an active scene with many kids. Some journalists would have shot four to five 36-exposure rolls in the same circumstances.


      October 4, 2013 at 1:29 pm

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: