Philip Jones Griffiths: Icons
A new exhibition, Philip Jones Griffiths: Icons will showcase a new estate edition released by the Philip Jones Griffiths foundation comprising of 12 prints.
In 1971, Philip Jones Griffith’s published his first book, the groundbreaking Vietnam Inc which cemented his reputation as both a fiercely intelligent and astute photojournalist. The outcome of three years reporting, this work was one of the most detailed photographic surveys of any conflict. Depicting the horrors of war as well as a study of Vietnamese rural life, the book presented a compelling argument against the war machine and was crucial in changing public perceptions of the conflict. Henri Cartier-Bresson, one of Philip’s heroes and co-founder of Magnum Photos said of his Vietnam conflict photographs, ‘Not since Goya has anyone portrayed war like Philip Jones Griffiths’.
Griffiths returned many times to Viet Nam and three decades later, in 2004 published Agent Orange: Collateral Damage in Viet Nam. The photographs in this book showed the effects of the toxic chemical in Agent Orange, dropped by the US on Vietnamese and Cambodian soil, responsible for horrific congenital deformities still affecting children born today. This book was published Trolley Books, whose founder Gigi Giannuzzi was not afraid to publish such difficult work. It was the beginning of an enduring friendship and working relationship, and two more books followed, Viet Nam at Peace in 2005 and Recollections in 2008, published a few months after Philip’s death.
Despite his seminal book on the Vietnam War, Griffith’s disliked being described as a war photographer and the archive of his 50-year career is rich with photojournalism from over 100 countries. A small selection of his best-known images taken in Britain will be on display in the exhibition, drawn from the 2008 publication Recollections. From the Beatles in Liverpool to the conflict in Northern Ireland, lovers in shop doorways and his well-known photograph of a boy smashing a piano, this work remains a highly revealing, poignant document of the time in which it was created.
Born in Rhuddlan, Wales, Philip Jones Griffiths (1936 – 2008) studied pharmacy in Liverpool before moving to work in London whilst photographing part-time for the Manchester Guardian. In 1961 he became a full-time freelancer for the London-based Observer, covering the Algerian War in 1962, followed by Vietnam from 1966 to 1971. An associate member of Magnum since 1966, Griffiths became a member in 1971. In 1980 Griffiths moved to New York to assume the presidency of Magnum, apost he held for a record five years. Griffiths' assignments, often self-engineered, took him to more than 120 countries. Philip Jones Griffiths died at home in West London on 19th March 2008.