Henri Cartier-Bresson • MoMA

Monday, 8 December 2014

“The paradox of photography is primarily (but not only) a historical one. Photography is located at the very source of modernity, of capitalism and the industrial revolution, of a technical era characterized by the power of the machine. But it is also situated at the end of art, at the very limit of a model of representation dominated by painting and its primarily figurative aesthetics. Photography comes, therefore, both too late and too early. It comes too late because it is preceded by a long history of art and pictorial tradition which threatens to distort or oversimplify its definition. But it also comes too early to the extent that it anticipates the cultural development of imagery in the twentieth-century, from film to television to virtual reality. Photography thus signifies both an end and a beginning to representation. It is precisely this two-fold identity that makes it challenging to comprehend, especially if one still believes in the intellectual sovereignty of the historical perspective.” Pierre Taminiaux, The Paradox of Photography