Exercise 5.3 Behind the Gare Saint-Lazare


Henri Cartier- Bresson’s Photograph Behind the Gare Saint- Lazare


For exercise 5.3 we are asked to look again at the photograph Behind the Gare Saint-Lazare from part 3. We are asked about the ‘pivotal point’ of the photograph and the information it contains.

‘Behind the Gare Saint-Lazare is considered one of Henri Cartier -Bressons most iconic images. It was taken in 1932 at the back of the  Saint-Lazare train station in Paris. Henri Cartier -Breeson admits to placing his Leica camera in between a gap in a fence that was a construction site and waiting for the image, he got it. A man jumping from the ladder to the water as he was in a hurry to get home.

This image for me shows a lot of symmetry, replication and reflection. Henri Cartier -Breeson liked geometry. There is the man jumping and his reflection, the man behind the fence which mirrors Henri Cartier-Bresson position as he takes the picture, the symmetry of the fence and the  reflected fence. The arc’s of scrap metal and the geometric shape of the station roof.

There is irony seen with the poster of a dancer showing a leaping poses which mimics the guy leaping off the ladder, six leaping figures are seen in total. The image contains the back of a train station and the ladder looks like a railway line, the word ‘Railowsky’ is repeated twice on an advert and four times in total.

The picture has both movement and stability. My eyes are drawn to the distance between the man’s legs and his reflection, its almost triangular for my vision. This pivotal point for me is the observing and recognising of the movement of the man, its the action. It is life mirroring art.

Information links

https://www.moma.org/collection/works/98333 [accessed 18/11/2016]




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