This shot of a cheeky lad snapped in the Rue Mouffetard in 1954 by Henri Cartier-Bresson is my favourite picture. Now I discover that it was the photographer’s least favourite picture! At any rate, this is what John Banville writes in his review of Magnum Magnum, the anniversary collection of work by Magnum photographers:
Taste is a strange thing, and again and again throughout Magnum Magnum one is surprised by what seem not so much contrasts as head-on collisions. In a brief introductory essay Gerry Badger wonders what might be the quintessential Magnum image. He decides on Henri Cartier-Bresson’s picture of ”that wonderfully cheeky Parisian urchin cradling two bottles of wine”. It is ironic, therefore, to recall that when, a couple of years before his death, I mentioned this very snapshot to HCB, he threw his hands in the air and cried out as if in pain: ”Terrible! Terrible! I should destroy the negative!”
Just goes to show: great minds seldom think alike.