Martine Franck à la Fondation Henri Cartier-Bresson
Martine Franck (1938 -2012)
Belgian Documentary & Portrait Photographer
Martine Franck was a Belgian-born/British documentary and portrait photographer who was a member of Magnum Photos for over 32 years. Franck was the second wife of Henri Cartier-Bresson and co-founder and president of the Henri Cartier-Bresson Foundation (2003).
Born in Antwerp, Belgium, Franck grew up in the United States and in England. She studied art history at the University of Madrid and at the École du Louvre in Paris.
In 1963, she travelled to China, taking her cousin’s Leica camera with her, and started experimenting. Returning home to France via Hong Kong, Cambodia, India, Afghanistan and Turkey, she began working as a photographic assistant at Time-Life, and soon launched herself as an independent photographer, with portraits of artists and writers published in Life, Fortune, Sports Illustrated, The New York Times and Vogue.
In 1966, Franck met famed photographer Henri Cartier-Bresson, whom she married in 1970. She strove to maintain her own style, to neither be in his shadow nor trade on his fame. Eschewing the war reportage that characterised Magnum’s work, Franck focussed rather on documenting the human condition, the world of work, of women and old age. From its inception in 1964, she also photographed the work of the ground-breaking Theatre du Soleil founded by her great friend Ariane Mnouchkine.
After setting up her own agencies, Agence VU in 1970 and Agence Viva in 1972, she eventually joined Magnum in 1980, becoming a full member in 1983. She was one of the few women to be accepted and served as vice-president from 1998 to 2000. The Henri Cartier-Bresson Foundation preserves her photographic and film archives alongside those of Henri Cartier-Bresson.
By Paula Vellet