Would cropping the print have undermined Cartier-Bresson's idea of himself as a Surrealist?
Would dodging and burning and other darkroom alchemy have undermined Cartier-Bresson's idea of himself as a Surrealist?
I think both answers are negatives.
The problem is that other
people have deified the man to the level of 'artistic' cult, whereas I don't believe there's a single instance where HC-B himself even referred to his photography as art - of any kind.
As so often happens, it's other people who create the myths and the eventual bullshit that bring in the art dollar. It's a pity, really, because it detracts from the photography itself which, though passing far from the mundane on many occassions, was also pretty darned average on others. If you look at his pictures of street fighting as the Nazis were being crushed in Paris, they are singularly lacking in visual excitement. Which is surprising, but does, by contrast, highlight his abilty with turning the really mundane into something else. That a gathering of women in saris looking at some mountains - what more mundane for those people in that location? - was enough to inspire David Bailey into photographic life says a lot.