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Ex 5.3 – response to ‘Behind the Gare Saint-Lazare’

[recreated from pdf after blog crash]


” Include a short response to Behind the Gare Saint-Lazare in your learning log. You can be as imaginative as you like.

For this exercise, I am pretending that I know nothing of this famous photograph or of the time when it was taken. I create an imaginary context for it and attribute my own meaning. This will demonstrate that while a photograph communicates information, on its own it communicates no specific meaning. That is down to the reader of the photograph.

Screen Shot 2015-09-08 at 22.09.55

Source: moma.com

In the background are the train station buildings and a clock tower. It is around twenty-past twelve, noon. It is a time of celebration, but of what? The poster on the wall shows a man leaping as a promotion for a circus coming to town; the famous Railowsky acrobatic troup from Poland. But this is not such an exceptional event, and no cause for a real celebration. A shadowy figure observes from the railings, he too is unsure of what is happening, but he sees the spectacle. The man leaping across the waste-ground, like a playful child not the hatted and suited adult he his. The water reflects everything in the scene like a mirror, two times the joy. Finally, in the foreground are opened metal hoops, straining to rejoin as circles. This symbolises the celebration. The man is about to meet the train that will reunite him with his wife and children, after their 3 year evacuation from the city during the years of war.


Museum of Modern Art [website]. Behind the Gare Saint-Lazare – Henri Cartier-Bresson. Available
from: https://www.moma.org/collection/works/98333 [accessed 6.9.15]

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