Wright Morris: The Essence of Visible

Wright Morris: The Essence of Visible

For the first time in France, the Fondation Henri Cartier-Bresson offers the possibility of sharing the vision of Writh Morris, both photographic and literary, of America.

This exhibition includes prints, books, and documents from the Wright Morris Estate Collection in San Francisco.
The exhibition is accompanied by the L’essence du visible catalog and the Fragments de temps collection of texts both published by Éditions Xavier Barral.

About the Author

Wright Marion Morris (January 6, 1910 – April 25, 1998) was an American writer, photographer, and essayist. He is known for his portraits of people and artifacts of the Great Plains in words and images, as well as to experiment with narrative forms.

When Wright Morris devoted himself to photography, he was already a scholar-writer and soon became a respected author in the United States. Therefore, consider the photographic medium primarily as an additional tool to “capture the essence of the visible” just as it did with words.
Wright Morris spent his childhood in Nebraska, Chicago, his uncles’ farms and accompanying his father on long journeys across America. At age 23, he traveled through Europe and on his return decided to devote himself entirely to writing. He immediately understood that photography could capture what he had tried to “catch in words” until then. This formal research led to his first “photo test”, The Inhabitants (1946), in which fantasy texts are combined with photographs taken mainly in Nebraska, where he grew up.

Unlike his fiction, which often focuses on garish characters, his photographs are practically devoid of figures. Yet a lot of life runs silently between the chairs (omnipresent), the mirrors, the machines or even the wooden architecture (fundamental). It is as if his photographs were rooted in the earth, imbued with a disarming simplicity while maintaining the enigmatic character of bare places and objects, without human presence bringing them to life.
The bard of intimacy, Wright Morris makes the invisible visible and this paradox is probably the noblest intention of photography.

Wright Morris: L’Essence du Visible

June 18 – September 29, 2019
Fondation Henri Cartier-Bresson, Paris


ISBN-13: 978-2365112260
ISBN-10: 2365112269

Hardcover: 220 pages
Publisher: Xavier Barral (13 June 2019)
Language: Francais
Product Dimensions: 7 x 10 inches

Wright Morris (1910-1998) was a renowned writer and photographer who traveled the Great Plains of the Midwest during the 1930’s. This first monograph in French coincides with the first important exhibition in France at the Henri Cartier-Bresson Foundation in Paris. He photographs American rural life inspired by the realism of authors and photographers of the Great Depression such as John Steinbeck and Walker Evans. Devoid of figures, his photographs depict everyday objects and atmosphere. Morris’s poetic images exist in a fictional narrative, yet reference documentary style.

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