‘When human beings are suffering, they tend to look up, as if hoping for salvation. And that’s when I press the button.’—Don McCullin
Photographer Don McCullin has witnessed some of the most harrowing humanitarian disasters of the last half-century, having covered every major conflict in his adult lifetime. His assignments included the Vietnam and Biafra War, Northern Ireland, the Lebanese Civil War, Belgian Congo, the Russian invasion of Afghanistan and the fall of Phnom Penh. In pursuit of his work, he was wounded in Cambodia, fell from a roof in Salvador, was imprisoned by the Idi Amin regime in Uganda, and contracted cerebral malaria in West Africa. But in the course of his long career, and through his dedication to documenting global wars and conflict, he has become celebrated both as a master of black and white photography, and as history’s greatest war photographer.His early professional career shone a harsh spotlight on the reality of post-war life, including the stark landscapes of the industrial north, the increasing unemployment and homelessness levels in the capital, and growing unrest across the country. For the last two decades, McCullin has turned to look at the land around him, namely the Somerset village in which he was evacuated during the Blitz. Often referring to the sweeping rural landscape as his greatest salvation, the photographer demonstrates the full mastery of his medium with stark black and white images resonating with human emotion whilst retaining the honesty and grit synonymous with his earlier works.
McCullin holds a Commander of the British Empire medal, and is only the second photographer to become a Knight of the Realm. Major exhibitions include: ‘Hearts of Darkness,’ Victoria & Albert Museum, London, England (1980); Barbican Center, London, England (1998); La Maison de la Photographie, Paris, France (2002); ‘Shaped By War,’ Imperial War Museum, London, England (2012); Gracefield Arts Centre, Dumfries, England (2017), a part of the Tate’s highly celebrated Artist Rooms. A major retrospective will take place at the Tate Britain, London, England in early 2019.