Martine Franck (1938-2012)

 ["Martine's Legs," Henri Cartier-Bresson 1967]

["Martine's Legs," Henri Cartier-Bresson 1967]

Martine Franck passed away this morning in Paris.

As the second wife of Henri Cartier-Bresson, Franck was known in part for creating the Henri Cartier-Bresson Foundation. She was also known as one of Cartier-Bresson’s subjects. There is Cartier-Bresson’s photo of her drinking tea, face turned from camera (1975), and another of her bare legs, tucked underneat a book (1967).

But Martine Franck was also a respected photographer in her own right. Her work, sublimely self-aware, often captures her subjects in the act of looking. In a 2010 New York Times interview, Franck explained: “I think I tend to to like photographing photographs within photographs because the passing of time has always been one of my main preoccupations.”

Born in 1939 in Belgium, Franck grew up in England and the United States before studying art history in Spain and at the École du Louvre in Paris. After graduating, she landed a job as a photographer at the New York Times, where she met Cartier-Bresson on assignment photographing fashion shows in Paris. Her career included a position at Vogue and as the official photographer of the Theatre du Soleil.

Franck was passionately dedicated to preserving her husband’s legacy and commemorating the life they shared. She spent 2010 traveling to promote Cartier-Bresson’s retrospective at MOMA, and served as president of the Henri Cartier-Bresson Foundation from its creation until her death.

In her interview with the New York Times, Franck said: “Henri taught me to say ‘no.’ He taught me to be selective, never to show photographs one did not want to see published.”

We have lost a valuable supporter of contemporary photography today.

Kit Warchol