Since his is fundamentally a tragic vision, he reacted most feelingly to what in America he saw as related to its decay, its pain.

-Arthur Miller, writing of the photographs that Cartier-Bresson took in America.

CHICAGO—The employment office, 1947.

CHICAGO—The employment office, 1947.

NEW ORLEANS—1947. © Henri Cartier-Bresson / Magnum Photos

NEW ORLEANS—1947. © Henri Cartier-Bresson / Magnum Photos

NEW YORK CITY—On the Lower East Side, 1947. © Henri Cartier-Bresson / Magnum Photos

NEW YORK CITY—On the Lower East Side, 1947. © Henri Cartier-Bresson / Magnum Photos

NEW YORK CITY—1947. © Henri Cartier-Bresson / Magnum Photos

NEW YORK CITY—1947. © Henri Cartier-Bresson / Magnum Photos

CAPE COD, Mass.—Independence Day, 1947. © Henri Cartier-Bresson / Magnum Photos

CAPE COD, Mass.—Independence Day, 1947. © Henri Cartier-Bresson / Magnum Photos

CAPE COD, Mass.—“This woman explained to me that the flagpole over her door was broken, but ‘on such a day as this, one keeps one’s flag on one’s heart.’ I felt in her a touch of the strength and robustness of the early American pioneers.”—Henri Cartier-Bresson, Independence Day, 1947. © Henri Cartier-Bresson / Magnum Photos

CAPE COD, Mass.—“This woman explained to me that the flagpole over her door was broken, but ‘on such a day as this, one keeps one’s flag on one’s heart.’ I felt in her a touch of the strength and robustness of the early American pioneers.”—Henri Cartier-Bresson, Independence Day, 1947. © Henri Cartier-Bresson / Magnum Photos

MASSACHUSETTS—Watching fireworks on July 4, 1947. © Henri Cartier-Bresson / Magnum Photos

MASSACHUSETTS—Watching fireworks on July 4, 1947. © Henri Cartier-Bresson / Magnum Photos

NEW YORK—Coney Island, 1946. © Henri Cartier-Bresson / Magnum Photos

NEW YORK—Coney Island, 1946. © Henri Cartier-Bresson / Magnum Photos

LOS ANGELES—1960. © Henri Cartier-Bresson / Magnum Photos

LOS ANGELES—1960. © Henri Cartier-Bresson / Magnum Photos

NEW MEXICO—At the Lama Foundation community, a father and two children pass in front of the kitchen, a stoutly built octagonal wood and glass structure (geodesic dome) with all the things a kitchen should have, plus a dining room above, 1971. © Henri Cartier-Bresson / Magnum Photos

NEW MEXICO—At the Lama Foundation community, a father and two children pass in front of the kitchen, a stoutly built octagonal wood and glass structure (geodesic dome) with all the things a kitchen should have, plus a dining room above, 1971. © Henri Cartier-Bresson / Magnum Photos

NEW YORK CITY—Easter Sunday in Harlem, 1947. © Henri Cartier-Bresson / Magnum Photos

NEW YORK CITY—Easter Sunday in Harlem, 1947. © Henri Cartier-Bresson / Magnum Photos

KNOXVILLE, Tenn.—1947. © Henri Cartier-Bresson / Magnum Photos

KNOXVILLE, Tenn.—1947. © Henri Cartier-Bresson / Magnum Photos

WASHINGTON, D.C.—At the Lincoln Memorial, a Pilgrimage for Freedom prayer session features singer Mahalia Jackson, 1957. © Henri Cartier-Bresson / Magnum Photos

WASHINGTON, D.C.—At the Lincoln Memorial, a Pilgrimage for Freedom prayer session features singer Mahalia Jackson, 1957. © Henri Cartier-Bresson / Magnum Photos

MICHIGAN—Football at Ann Arbor University, 1960.  © Henri Cartier-Bresson / Magnum Photos

MICHIGAN—Football at Ann Arbor University, 1960. © Henri Cartier-Bresson / Magnum Photos

ANN ARBOR, Mich.—A Michigan vs. Northwestern football game, Oct. 15, 1960. © Henri Cartier-Bresson / Magnum Photos

ANN ARBOR, Mich.—A Michigan vs. Northwestern football game, Oct. 15, 1960. © Henri Cartier-Bresson / Magnum Photos

NEW YORK CITY—1959. © Henri Cartier-Bresson / Magnum Photos

NEW YORK CITY—1959. © Henri Cartier-Bresson / Magnum Photos

New York, 1947, Henri Cartier-Bresson © Magnum Photos

New York, 1947, Henri Cartier-Bresson © Magnum Photos