Photographs culled from an unbound and unpublished album of Henri Cartier-Bresson taken in Pondicherry are at the core of an upcoming exhibition...
" In Henri Cartier-Bresson’s life that remained eventful till the end, one chapter belonged to the photographer’s visit to Aurobindo Ashram in Pondicherry in the ’50s. The father of modern photojournalism had of course been to India earlier, met Mahatma Gandhi and even covered his funeral. All of that remains well-known but his work on the Ashram remains comparatively less talked about. Bresson, it is said, had a knack for bearing witness to historic moments. So this time too, he was there shooting Sri Aurobindo, the revered yogi-philosopher-guru-poet, just a few months before his death.
The Alkazi Foundation for the Arts in collaboration with Alliance Francaise de Delhi is presenting some masterly frames made during this engagement. The exhibition “Mastering the Lens: Before and After Cartier-Bresson in Pondicherry” will be accompanied by the launch of a publication collaboratively published by the Alkazi Collection, Mapin and the French Embassy. “Cartier-Bresson was fascinated by The Mother (Mirra Alfassa) and what was going on at the Ashram. He sought permission to photograph it and it was granted. He stayed there for 10 days. Now the photographs that he shot were compiled by The Mother into albums. The Mother bought negatives from him and brought out as many as 30 albums but only one album remains now,” says Rahaab Allana, curator of the Alkazi Foundation for the Arts.
The majority of the images to be showcased in this exhibition belong to this unbound and unpublished album of Cartier-Bresson. Besides taking the last pictures of Sri Aurobindo Ghose in the company of his spiritual companion, The Mother, the French photographer also recorded his observations and experiences. The exhibition also features these notes. Now, even though Alkazi Collection owns these photographs, the copyright remains with Fondation Henri Cartier-Bresson which was managed by his wife Martine Franck, who passed away last month. The exhibition is dedicated to Franck, also a Magnum photographer, specialising in portraiture photography."
Photo : 'The Mother Playing tennis' | Henri Cartier-Bresson
Article by Shailaja Tripathi | The Hindu