Martine Franck passed away this past August after a long and difficult illness. Most people knew her as Henri Cartier-Bresson's second wife and president of the Henri Cartier-Bresson Foundation, which was established to promote her husband's photojournalist's work. But she was also an important photographer in her own right, beginning her career as the assistant of Eliot Elisofon and Gjon Mili at Life magazine, before joining the Vu news agency in the 1960s. And perhaps even more important were her contributions to Magnum, where she worked tirelessly to maintain that organization's viability. She will be sorely missed there, where her biography on Magnum's website still has not been updated to include her passing--perhaps not so inadvertently.
Her brother Eric Franck is a good friend and fellow AIPAD dealer. We talked at AIPAD in late March about Martine's illness and how she got a blood transfusion just to attend an exposition in Japan. Most of us had learned about her illness the previous fall, just before Paris Photo.
She was in the vernacular of her time "one tough broad", despite being a woman of culture and an articulate fighter for what she believed. We didn't always agree in our email communications unfortunately, but I greatly respected her contributions to the field of photography and her passion, grit and determination to maintain her husband's and photojournalism's legacy. My one personal regret was that we never got to meet in person before she died. I always felt we were working for the same fundamental results.
Certainly, she will be most missed by her family--her daughter Melanie, her brother Eric, sister-in-law Louise and other family members--but her death was also a severe blow to both the photojournalism and photography art communities, where the results of her work will live on. And I trust that her photography will be well recognized for its humanity, passion and excellence in its own right. There is a certain sadness to such an immense loss, but perhaps this knowledge will help cushion some of the blow.