Henri Cartier-Bresson, the French photographer who set the tone for street photography for several generations, shunned attention and preferred to live quietly and unobserved. He was also a bit of a provocateur, claiming, among other things, that he never really liked photography. In a 2004 article published in Vanity Fair magazine, writer David Friend recounts a conversation he had with “HCB,” then in his 94th year. Having long since set down his camera, HCB was then dedicating his creative energies to sketching nude models in a studio on the rue de Rivoli in Paris, the same building where Monet, Cézanne, and Pissarro used to work.
He raises his glass, again toasting anarchy. “I’m an anarchist, yes,” he explains. “Because I’m alive. Life is a provocation… I’m against people in power and what that imposes upon them. Anglo-Saxons have to learn what anarchism is. For them, it’s violence. A cat knows what anarchy is. Ask a cat. A cat understands. They’re against discipline and authority. A dog is trained to obey. Cats can’t be. Cats bring on chaos. Libertarianism — c’est la vie.
From “Cartier-Bresson’s Decisive Moment,” by David Friend (Vanity Fair, December 2004)