Henri Cartier Bresson
Man and machine
For Henri Cartier-Bresson a sense of freedom was the key to his photographic intuition.
So it was not IBM's policy to ask this great photographer to limit himself in delivering a specific message. He was given carte blanche all over the world to document people at work.
1967 was a period of great transformation: production line work had changed little since the industrial revolution and safety regulations were rarely applied, but it was also the moment when the era of engineers, computer science and robotisation was beginning.
For the first time, the Henri Cartier-Bresson Foundation has granted the scoop of presenting this little-known work.
International fair Montreal, 1967 Silver gelatin print dated 1973, signed in ink on reverse side in lower margin
Stanford University California, United States, 1967
Cape Kennedy Space Center Florida, United States, 1967
Born in Chanteloup in 1908.
Died in 2004.
Man and machine
— At what point is mankind in its progression towards a beneficial coexistence between man and machine?
This was the question posed by IBM in 1967 when they commissioned the work by Henri Cartier-Bresson, Man and machine, published in 1969. This sentence was printed on the invitation to the exhibition that presented the book in the IBM France head office in Place Vendôme in Paris. It was later exhibited in 1970 at the IBM Gallery in New York, before being placed on show, fourteen years later, in 1984 at IBM Milan.
This was not an unfamiliar subject for the photographer, who had always shown curiosity in this strange relationship between the two figures: man on one hand and machine on the other.
This can be seen in some of the photos that were not part of the commissioned work but that are included in the book, like the photos taken in China in 1958 and in Cuba in 1963, or some others that Cartier-Bresson added for the exhibition in 1984, shot after the commission. During this period he showed a great deal of interest in the evidence of the consumer society and had already begun to make critical comments on the changes made by industry in the landscape.
The prints exposed come from the 1984 exhibition.
© Henri Cartier-Bresson/Magnum Photos, Courtesy Fondation Henri Cartier-Bresson