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Henri Cartier-Bresson: The Decisive Moment Hardcover – Oct 31 2014

1.3 out of 5 stars 3 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 160 pages
  • Publisher: Steidl; Pck Slp Ha edition (Oct. 31 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 3869307889
  • ISBN-13: 978-3869307886
  • Product Dimensions: 28.4 x 3.3 x 38.1 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 2.7 Kg
  • Average Customer Review: 1.3 out of 5 stars 3 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #80,132 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product Description


Reprinted to the exact specification of the original, including Henri Matisse's collage cover design, Steidl's care and craftsmanship is astounding. At 11.5" by 15," it's actually too large for my bookshelf. The spreads are sized according to the dimensions of the framelines of Cartier-Bresson's beloved Leica camera, allowing for a single large image, two vertical images, or four smaller horizontal images to fit on each spread. The sequencing is seamless and affecting-it is one of the most immersive experiences I have ever had with a book. The book's physical presence and high image quality demands not only respect for the work inside, but for it to be treated as a work of art in and of itself.--Evan Paul Laudenslager " "

It's immediately obvious that The Decisive Moment is a hedonistic delight, at least if your idea of hedonism is flexible enough to extend to the tactile and visual pleasure of a photography book.--Gary Cockburn "One Thousand Words "

Diligently reproduced to the finest detail, Steidl seems to have resisted the urge to over embellish the new edition with unnecessary addendums. Cartier-Bresson likely would have dismissed an elaborate reconstruction of his book as crass and egregious. The Decisive Moment is about the aesthetics of coincidence, and the faith to follow intuition. Like every brilliant unexpected moment, things can never be truly recreated, but only faithfully retold.--Krystal Grow "Wired "

With the winter months slowly waning away, what better time is there to grab a good book, a hot beverage, and lounge in bed on a chilly and blustery evening? Luckily for you, we went ahead and picked the most enticing coffee table books that will be released this month, which can be viewed in the slideshow above.--Devon Ivie "Interview "

Henri Cartier-Bresson's iconic photography book, "The Decisive Moment," has been republished, 62 years after the highly influential collection of his early work was first released.--Aurelien Breeden "The New York Times Arts Beat "

The Decisive Moment has finally been republished. Sixty-two years on, it still carries the weight of its initial importance - even if the notion of the decisive moment no longer holds sway as it once did; staged photography, conceptual strategies and digitally manipulated images have all but rendered it old-fashioned except to purists, photojournalists and street photographers.--Sean O'Hagan "The Guardian "

A decisively beautiful object that belongs in the library of anyone who cares about photography... From editing and sequencing to packaging, it's a masterpiece.--Pat Padua "Spectrum Culture "

More than ten years after his passing, the renowned street and social documentary photographer Henri Cartier-Bresson--who so famously coined the term "the decisive moment," or the second when all of the compositional elements of a scene come into harmony--continues to charm, fascinate and inspire photographers worldwide. The Decisive Moment (Steidl), Cartier-Bresson's book that was first published in 1952 by Simon and Schuster, is reentering the market. This latest edition, which will also be covered in Matisse cutouts like the original, highlights the photographer's revered early work, and it will come with a booklet of an essay on the history of The Decisive Moment by Clement Cheroux, the Centre Pompidou curator.--Libby Peterson "Rangefinder "

One of the most influential (and yet hardest to find) photobooks in print gets the Steidl gold-standard reprint treatment here. Available for the first time in sixty years, Henri Cartier-Bresson's Decisive Moment still sizzles with taut, kinetic energy. From the Matisse-designed cover through the tightly edited image selection, it's a brilliant mix of street photography and reportage, photos that, despite being perfectly composed, feel very alive. Many of them have evolved from classics to cultural wallpaper. The book reminds us of Cartier-Bresson's genius--just in case you needed a reminder.--Mark Murrmann "Mother Jones "

Within the canon of European photography books it would be difficult to find one more famous, revered and influential as Henri Cartier-Bresson's Images a la Sauvette or, as the American edition is titled, The Decisive Moment.

For new generations of photographers and artists who have missed out on experiencing many of the world's important books first hand, it cannot be stressed enough how important this new edition of The Decisive Moment is for a contemporary audience. "Robert Frank's The Americans and Cartier-Bresson's The Decisive Moment were published within a few years of each other in the 1950s and both books have since become the blueprint for the modern photography book," Steidl says. "When you look at them, the design, the sequencing of the photos and the printing are - even 60 years later - much better than most of the printed books on the market today. My intention in reprinting both has been to analyze the contents of the books, the intention of the photographers, and to print them in exactly the same way, so the next generation can see how these fine books were made and secure the future of photography publishing."--Jeffrey Ladd "Time Lightbox "

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
My first review about this book had five stars and was voted as the most helpful review on Amazon UK. It had 13 positive votes so, as I decided to change my rate to one star , I thought it would be better to delete the first review and post a new one, instead of simply editing the original text and keeping the votes...

I don't think this book is worth ordering. I returned mine for a full refund. It was past the time of returning it but Amazon accepted the book back.

There is no reason to buy this book, unless you collect Cartier Bresson's books and/or you don't care about the poor quality of the photos in Steid's "The Decisive Moment".

I returned the book for four reasons:
It has far too many double spreads filled with pitfalls
The quality of printing is poor
Other books have a far better selection of Cartier Bresson's photos
I already have a few of CB's books and "The Decisive Moment" doesn't add to them.

1. Double Spreads

A double page spread in a photography book is a silly choice of design. They might look good on a magazine but definitely not on a book. They limit the view of the photograph and their large size, in the specific case of this book, make for images that are just too soft.

Even considering that Cartier Bresson's photos were naturally soft, the photos in this book, which were scanned from a sixty years old book, are certainly too soft for modern eyes. But things got worse because of the excessive enlargement of photos for double page spreads.

The worse thing about those awful double spreads is how they impoverish the original photograph.
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Format: Hardcover
So sad that a publisher like Steidl would turn out such a poor copy. Cropped images, double trucks and after leaving the book out of the slip cover for a day found the front hard cover with a crazy curve as if subjected to very high humidity. Emailed Steidl but got no response. Spoke to a few others who are also very displeased and returned the book. I didn't as it was a gift but likely would have. Took me a while to get over the fact the book was inferior quality. I wanted it so badly.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Wasn't what I expected. Wanted print quality of pictures to be better and on quality paper.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 4.0 out of 5 stars 70 reviews
53 of 54 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Reproduction Faithful to the Original Feb. 8 2015
By T. H. Walker - Published on
Format: Hardcover
I would like to second Kevin's comments on the excellent quality of the Steidl reproduction. I have the original TDM and side-by-side comparison makes clear that Steidl has done an excellent job of reproducing the original gravure print quality. The blacks are slightly darker in the original, thanks to the ability of the gravure process to lay down ink, and the original has a slightly different quality to the varnish on each image (a slight bit more gloss with the original). The Steidl edition paper is similar to the original in weight and feel (and a bit brighter than my aging original), and contrary to comments from some reviewers the 'sharpness' is fully comparable to the original (and I've never thought sharp was a big thing for HCB). Overall the reproduction yields images that look very much like those in the original.

The real issue here for many reviewers may simply a lack of familiarity with gravure reproduction. If one can get over the fact that it doesn't look like today's (truly excellent) high-end lithographic reproduction, it's possible to appreciate the subtle beauty of the result. For other examples of great gravure, see Paul Strand's La France de Profil or Robert Doisneau's La Banlieue de Paris, both of which are lovely in a way that's totally different from the printing of today's high-end photo books. Steid's version of The Americans also does a nice job of capturing the quality of the gravure first editions.

It's all a bit like arguments over whether inkjet printing looks better on matte or baryta paper. Both can be beautiful but represent different aesthetics. So don't buy this book if you don't like gravure. But if you do, or at least want an edition that is very faithful to the original, the Steidl is it.
47 of 49 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Amazing Reproduction of the Original Feb. 7 2015
By Kevin - Published on
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I read these reviews lamenting the horrible print quality while waiting for me pre-ordered copy to be delivered and expected to be terribly disappointed. They were so negative I was ready to return the book without opening it. Reviewers claim that the photos look like copies of copies and that HCB never would have let his work be presented this way. Because of these reviews, I though the Steidl facsimile of the original must have been blundered somehow. It was only at my fiancées insistence that I even bothered unwrapping the book to take a look at it (she knew how excited I was about the book coming out and even offered to pay for it if I didn't like the edition).

I just took my copy out of the shrink wrap, and couldn't be more pleased. I am Thrilled with this book.

Here is some background that may be helpful. Several months ago, when I heard this book was being reprinted, I decided to see if my university's interlibrary loan service could track down a copy is the rare, valuable, original for me to borrow, to see if I wanted to buy the Steidl edition when released. I figured it was a longshot since a book this rare and valuable is risky to lend out. But the library was able to get it for me and I can tell you that Steidl did a PERFECT job reproducing it. It is literally as though you are holding a brand new copy of the original in your hands (except better, because the photos haven't faded over 50 years and had hundreds of students' hands on the pages- they look fresh as they should).

So I have to admit, I'm really baffled by the negative reviews, especially one that claims to have seen the original. If people think the photos look like copies of copies, well, that's what you would have thought of the original too. Yeah, they're not hyperglossy, but neither was the original book. End of story. It's EXACTLY what the version of the original edition I had looked like (but, again, only better: because it's new, not missing the dust jacket, and comes in a nice slipcase).

I can tell you as someone serious about photography books ( and ones from Steidl as well: I've spend lots of $ on Steidl's gorgeous editions of William Eggleston's work) and street photography itself, you should not let these negative reviews of the print quality dissuade you.

The content, of course, speaks for itself: the book is an absolute masterpiece.

So I would really advise you just see for yourself what you think. You may be disappointed if you think they will look like digital photos. But they are not now, and they never were. What they are is faithful to HCB's vision for the book.
21 of 23 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Amazing facsimile of the original book (updated) Feb. 5 2015
By Matt Barnett - Published on
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
***JUNE 2016 EDIT***

Someone wrote: "this book is worth every penny." No. This book is worth MORE than every penny. To get it for under $100 is unimaginable. It's a fantastic book worthy of any photographer's collection.

***JUNE 2015 EDIT***

I am so thankful I ordered this book, waited six months and landed a copy in February 2015.

I took mine to a local university and compared it, side-by-side, to the original book. Steidl produced an exacting copy down to the finest detail. Aside from being in newer condition, I'd have a hard time telling the 2015 version from the 1952 version.

There are better books featuring Bresson's work. Sure. No question. But that's like saying the newest Ford Mustang is better than the 1964 1/2 Ford Mustang. "Better" being about as subjective as it gets. "The Decisive Moment" is a classic. This cannot be argued and it belongs on any photographer's bookshelf,

Now it appears to be out of print once again. Will we have to wait another 50 years for it to be printed again? If so, I have mine safely tucked away.
44 of 53 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Grateful for the Reprint, But... Feb. 7 2015
By K. Tanaka - Published on
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This was unquestionably a landmark book that represented not only a retrospective of HCB's self-declared best works over 20 years but also a new era in photography books. The original Simon & Schuster edition is extremely scarce and far too expensive for most camera enthusiasts to ever even see. So I salute Herr Steidl's determination to republish this work for a new generation. It must have been quite a project.

But I do wonder if Herr Steidl didn't meet this challenge with a bit too much desire for fidelity? In the 60 years since this book was first published the standards in both photography and graphic arts have changed dramatically. Complaints about the "poor image reproduction quality" fundamentally reflect this shift to the degree that tastes have changed. I recall the original book being printed in deep, rich photogravure. This intaglio-style process deposited copious amounts of ink on the paper to achieve the deep darks. Photogravure also had a characteristic tactility that no other process can match. But today photogravure is long gone. It was a very specialized process requiring equipment and craftsmanship that even Herr Steidl could not resurrect. He seemed to do his best with modern pressmanship techniques. Unfortunately while the results are sometimes convincing they are often anemic when compared to original photogravure. To today's photo enthusiasts weaned on over-sharpened, over-contrasted photos on social sites the images will look like they've been run through a washing machine.

What's more, the end boards curl outward like Shirley Temple's hair. I can literally slide the book out of its slip case and start a countdown from 30 to watch the top board curl like a flower opening towards the sun. That's not a terrible issue but it is a great disappointment and a surprise to see such a detail overlooked, or a corner cut, by Steidl. This was, after all, not a cheap book!

Personally, I think that Herr Steidl should have applied the full power of contemporary graphic arts technologies to this republication of The Decisive Moment. Gerhard Steidl is arguably the best printer of photobooks of our times. His skills and his legendary devotion to details are unmatched in the industry. I know that he could have produced a new TDM that would have greatly exceeded the original book's quality while remaining faithful to HCB's concept and images. But I get the impression that he may have become intimidated by the process or diverted by the doubtless many parties who must certainly have been screeching in his ears. So perhaps some fidelity to the original book's reproduction processes has produced what amounts to a photocopy of a The Decisive Moment.

So, yes, I'm rather disappointed by the results of this book particularly after waiting 6+ months on back-order here. My advice to prospective buyers: get a used copy unless you positively need it new. This edition will certainly not be a collectible edition and you should be able to find used copies for at a substantial discount shortly. If you're genuinely enchanted by the work make an effort to view an original copy of the book at a library, such as a major university or museum library. You'll be impressed.
14 of 16 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Horrible printing. I don't get it... Dec 20 2015
By Steven Sian - Published on
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I was really excited to find a copy of this book available for purchase. Unfortunately, this is a really horrible printing job by the publisher. The first thing I noticed was that the hard cover of the book was put on upside down. I would have been able to get past this since it has a paper cover that I would have kept on it anyway. You can't judge a book by it's cover, right? Once I started flipping through the pages, I realized that the page contents are not centered on the page. The top of the content of each page is cut off at the top and publisher notes (sorry, I'm not sure what else to call them) are at the bottom of each page. It's all too much for me to ignore for this price, so I'm returning it.