Issue #237  12/1/2017
Phillips Will Auction Cartier-Bresson Master Set Collection from Gallerist Peter Fetterman in NYC on December 12th.
©Henri Cartier-Bresson/Magnum Photos
©Henri Cartier-Bresson/Magnum Photos

On December 12th, Phillips will conclude its fall auction season with "Henri Cartier-Bresson: The Eye of the Century, Personal Photographs from the Collection of Peter Fetterman", an auction dedicated to the career of the legendary photographer. The auction will offer 120 works from the personal collection of Peter Fetterman, Cartier-Bresson's last dealer, who worked with the artist from 1990 until his death in 2004.

An international tour of the collection has been taking place with highlights traveling to London, Los Angeles, Paris, and Hong Kong; and all of the works will be on view in New York City from December 5-11 in advance of the auction. The auction itself will be held on Dec. 12th at 2 pm EST at Phillips located at 450 Park Avenue, New York.

Vanessa Hallett, Phillips' Worldwide Head of Photographs and Deputy Chairman, Americas, said, "We look forward to concluding the season by offering these spectacular images in our final auction of the year. Peter Fetterman played a vital role in expanding Henri Cartier-Bresson's audience in the United States. A great deal of Cartier-Bresson's works have become instantly recognizable, and in addition to those images, there are many photographs in Mr. Fetterman's collection that have rarely been seen. These stunning images span over three decades of the artist's career and were taken throughout his travels across the globe. They beautifully capture the aesthetic of the 'decisive moment' that defines his oeuvre."

A renowned photojournalist, Cartier-Bresson was one of the founding members of Magnum Photo Agency, with his photographs regularly featured in LIFE, Harper's Bazaar, and many other publications. Candidly capturing fleeting moments of beauty among the seemingly ordinary happenings of daily life, Henri Cartier-Bresson's work is intuitive and observational.

©Henri Cartier-Bresson/Magnum Photos
©Henri Cartier-Bresson/Magnum Photos

Initially influenced by the Surrealists' practice of aimlessly walking to find inspiration, he began shooting on his Leica camera while traveling through Europe in 1932, revealing the hidden drama and idiosyncrasy in the everyday. The hand-held Leica allowed him ease of movement while attracting minimal notice as he wandered in foreign lands, taking images that matched his bohemian spontaneity with his painterly sense of composition. Cartier-Bresson did not plan or arrange his photographs. His practice was to release the shutter at the moment his instincts told him the scene before him was in perfect balance. This he later famously titled "the decisive moment"—a concept that would influence photographers throughout the 20th century.

Peter Fetterman, collector and owner of the Peter Fetterman Gallery in Santa Monica, said, "Henri Cartier-Bresson was my hero, the man who inadvertently changed my life when I purchased a print of his image Srinagar over 40 years ago. This 'decisive moment' set me on a new personal and professional path, which continues today. The images in this auction are the culmination of a 40-year journey of collecting his work. These objects have given me great pleasure and a unique understanding of the world, and I am happy to pass them on to the next generation."

©Henri Cartier-Bresson/Magnum Photos
©Henri Cartier-Bresson/Magnum Photos

The images in this auction are comprised of landscapes from the artist's many travels, spanning from New York City to Kyoto, Japan, and from India to the French countryside; portraits of some of the most influential figures of the 20th century, including Malcolm X, Marilyn Monroe, and Truman Capote; and street photography that captured the everyday lives of his subjects from around the globe.

Among the highlights are photographs taken of the Russian ballet in the 1950s. Cartier-Bresson was in fact the first Western photographer to be granted access here since the advent of the Cold War, and these stunning images have rarely been seen on the market. From the highly recognizable Rue Mouffetard, Paris, 1954, and Behind the Gare Saint-Lazare, Paris, 1932, to the rare Bolshoi Ballet, Moscow, 1954, and Dublin, Ireland, 1952, "The Eye of the Century" offers the opportunity for both new and existing collectors to discover the world of Cartier-Bresson.

Links to the Sale and Additional Content:

The Auction: Henri Cartier-Bresson: The Eye of the Century, click here: https://www.phillips.com/auctions/auction/NY040517.

View e-catalogue, click here: https://issuu.com/phillipsauction/docs/ny040517_catalog.

Video – Hear Peter Fetterman Speak About the Collection. Click here: https://www.phillips.com/Video/default?VideoID=213.

Henri Cartier-Bresson: The Traveler. We move from region to region, exploring the people, places and moments Cartier-Bresson documented during his decades of photographic exploration and reportage in the 20th century. Click here: https://www.phillips.com/article/19337437/henri-cartier-bresson-the-traveler.

Peter Galassi and Peter Fetterman: In Conversation. The former Chief Curator of Photography at The Museum of Modern Art, New York spoke to prolific collector and renowned Los Angeles-based gallerist about the depth and variety of his Henri Cartier-Bresson collection. Click here: https://www.phillips.com/article/19241050/peter-galassi-and-peter-fetterman-in-conversation.

For more information on the sale or to leave bids, etc., contact:

Rachel Peart
Specialist, Head of Sale
+1-212-940-1246, email: rpeart@phillips.com.

Sarah Krueger
Head of Department, Photographs

General Inquiries:
+1-212-940-1245, email: photographs@phillips.com.