Sharpness is a Bourgeois Concept

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‘Helmut Newton finally saw Cartier-Bresson again last year, when Vanity Fair asked Cartier-Bresson to shoot a portrait of Newton for a portfolio by photographers older than 80.

Cartier-Bresson invited Newton and his wife, June (known by her nom de camera, Alice Springs), for lunch at his flat in the rue de Rivoli. (‘It was delicious. Henri has the most marvellous Moroccan cook’.) Then they walked to a nearby park to take the picture.

He had his little Leica,’ Newton remembers, ‘and he simply would point and shoot‘.

Since Cartier-Bresson’s hand isn’t as steady as it used to be, some of the pictures were a bit fuzzy. ‘Sharpness,’ he told Newton, ‘is a bourgeois concept‘.

Newton sits back and laughs: ‘I thought that was just divine‘.

Dana Thomas. Newsweek. June 9, 2003. Pg. 4


Image licensed © Martine Franck / Magnum Photos


CARTIER-BRESSON, Henri. 1952. The Decisive Moment. 2014 Edition. Göttingen: Steidl.

FRANCK, Martine. 2000. Helmut Newton & Henri Cartier-Bresson, at H C-B’s Home. Magnum. Available at:

THOMAS, Dana. 2003. Opposites Attract. Available at: (accessed 09/04/2019).

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