Throughout his career, Don McCullin has found himself on the edge of civilization looking in, capturing scenes as they unfold with an irresistible intuition, evoking our innermost feelings and rawest state of what it is to feel alive. Undoubtedly conflict and disaster have never left him, having documented almost every major humanitarian disaster of the last half-century, but it is his landscape images that enable him to find solace and create shared moments of peace and stillness with his viewer.
This online presentation allows a focused insight into McCullin’s platinum printing, a photographic process that delivers an infinite tonal range unattainable in his more conventional gelatin silver prints. Unlike the silver print process, platinum lies on the paper surface and has an ability to draw out and emphasize subtle detail in multiple layers, ideally suited to McCullin’s meditative landscapes that resonate with human emotion.
In order to create these images, McCullin has collaborated with specialist printers of platinum and platinum-palladium prints, 31 Studio based in Stroud, the first of its kind to be set up in the United Kingdom. McCullin says that his platinums are an attempt to bring some balance to his work, and maybe to his memories. ‘This work is therapeutic,’ he says. ‘I couldn’t be happier than when I am standing out on a cold winter morning waiting for the right light. The platinums are the essence. They are as far as you can go with what I am trying to do and say.’
At home in Somerset, Sir Don McCullin CBE talks about photographing the landscape ahead of his exhibition ‘The Stillness of Life’ at Hauser & Wirth Somerset. This personal survey of over 60 landscape photographs includes scenes across the United Kingdom, Europe and further afield, revealing the photographer’s innermost feelings through powerful compositions of wild heavens, haunting vistas and meditative still lifes.
In May 2020, The International Center of Photography honored McCullin with the Lifetime Infinity Award for his longstanding contribution to photography. Founded by Cornell Capa in 1974, The International Center of Photography is the world’s leading institution dedicated to photography and visual culture. Previous recognition includes two Premier Awards from World Press Photo, the 2006 ICP Infinity Awards Cornell Capa Award, and the 2016 Master of Photography at Photo London.
Sir Don McCullin CBE is one of the most important photographers of the late twentieth century, best known for his broad war reportage and critical social documentation. Between 1966 and 1984, he worked for The Sunday Times Magazine under Editor-in-Chief Harold Evans and Art Editor David King. He has since traveled to India, Africa and the Middle East, raising awareness of global humanitarian issues and war-torn countries with unflinching honesty.
To coincide with the reopening of Sir Don McCullin CBE’s exhibition ‘The Stillness of Life’ at Hauser & Wirth Somerset, the acclaimed photographer presents this special online exhibition of platinum prints. The digital curation echoes McCullin’s continued passion for international travel and the salvation he seeks within the British countryside. Spanning from the 1980s to the present day, the landscape imagery here ranges from flooding meadows and expansive local views across Somerset, to the Sonepur Mela Festival along the Ganges in India, and the Northern Arctic in Svalbard Archipelago. For McCullin, the landscape is a living subject. His photography engages the energy of the land—its history, character and expression—recording an intimacy and awareness of the fragile relationship between us and our natural surroundings.
Both the online and physical exhibitions follow McCullin’s major retrospective at Tate Britain, London in Spring 2019, featuring over 250 photographs that celebrate the scope and achievements of his entire career. The survey exhibition is due to travel to Tate Liverpool later this year.
‘Don McCullin. The Stillness of Life‘ will be on view at Hauser & Wirth Somerset until 6 September 2020.
Under the umbrella of Hauser & Wirth’s new global philanthropic and charitable initiative #artforbetter, we are donating 10% of gross profits from sales of all works in our online exhibitions to the COVID-19 Solidarity Response Fund for the World Health Organization.
All images © Don McCullin