The friendship and professional relationship between the acclaimed Lesvos-born art collector Teriade (Stratis Eleftheriadis) and celebrated French photographer Henri Cartier-Bresson is the focus of “The Decisive Moment,” an exhibition on display through September 5 at the Teriade Museum in the village of Varia on the southeast Aegean island.
The son of a wealthy family, Cartier-Bresson (1908-2004) studied painting and the work of the great painters in Paris, where he also rubbed elbows with almost every great personage of the arts and letters. The exhibition showcases 43 original large-scale photographs that were part of Teriade’s collection, and some of which are included in the seminal collection “Images a la Sauvette,” first published by Verve in 1952.
Most, however, were taken when Cartier-Bresson was working for the Magnum photo agency during two visits to Greece, in 1953 and 1961, showing the Acropolis and candid shots of life in the country’s villages and cities.
The photographer met Teriade, founder of the publishing house and Parisian art magazine Verve, in the 1930s and developed an artist-mentor relationship with the collector.
“They met in Paris in Picasso’s circle of surrealists,” explains the show’s curator, Kaiti Dimitriou. “Teriade became attached to him, as he did with so many other artists, in a lifelong friendship. This is, after all, attested to by dozens of photo portraits of Teriade and his circle of artists that are today part of the Teriade Museum’s permanent exhibits.”
“The tome ‘Images a la Sauvette,’ which has become established under its American title ‘The Decisive Moment,’ is, like all of Teriade’s publications, a masterpiece in regard to its printed reproductions of Cartier-Bresson’s photographs, which work so harmoniously with the theoretical essay of the prologue, a 4,500-word philosophical piece,” says the museum’s deputy director Evi Sambanikou.
Teriade published two books of photographs by Cartier-Bresson, beautiful publications that played a part in boosting the photographer’s international reputation, but also photography’s recognition as a fine art, particularly after 1950.
Teriade Museum, Varia, Mytilene, tel 22510.233.72. Opening hours are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily.