Les Halles, Paris, France, 1968


Gelatin silver print

35.7 x 23.8 cm (14 1/16 x 9 3/8 in.)

Surrounded by walls of crates, two women sat on makeshift seats are captured in the midst of a chat. Behind them is the old Fountain of the Innocents in the Parisian neighborhood of Les Halles, which enhances the verticality of the black and white photographic composition.

In 1968, Henri Cartier-Bresson made a series of photographs, which includes Les Halles, Paris, France, 1968, that immortalize the commercial hustle and bustle of a neighborhood then known as “the belly of Paris”. Inspired, as was Robert Doisneau, by the diversified society of this working class district, Cartier-Bresson focuses his sharp eye on the neighborhood's wholesalers, vegetable garden producers, night owls and transvestites. The documentary value of this series will later acquire a historic dimension when the neighborhood, long the Paris central fresh food market , is entirely rebuilt in the 1970s.

Les Halles, Paris, France, 1968 is presented for the first time as part of the Pinault Collection in the monographic exhibition Henri Cartier-Bresson. Le Grand Jeu at Palazzo Grassi in Venice, in 2020.