Refugee from U.S. Bombing, Saigon, 1968 © Philip Jones Griffiths / Magnum Photos
Photographs will be presented from the two important bodies of work that represent Philip’s archive – the Viet Nam war and Britain in the 1950s to 70s. They also to a certain extent demonstrate Philip’s belief in the power of the book to convey his work, both at the time and as an ongoing legacy.
In 1971 he published his first book, the ground-breaking Viet Nam Inc, which cemented his reputation as both a fiercely intelligent and astute photojournalist. It led Henry Cartier-Bresson, one of Philip’s heroes and founders of Magnum to comment, “Not since Goya has anyone portrayed war like Philip Jones Griffiths.”
The book had a huge impact in turning people’s opinion against the war and the US involvement in Viet Nam. Carefully considered and captioned with a scathing dry commentary, this was ‘war photography’ but in a very different sense, as the journalist and film-maker John Pilger wrote on Philip’s death in 2008: “No photographer produced such finely subversive work, knowing that truth in war is always subversive.”
Despite his seminal book on the Vietnam War, Philip hated to be described as a war photographer. His 50-year archive is rich with stunning photojournalism from over 100 countries around the world. Shortly before his death, a chance rediscovery of old work from The Observer instigated an exhibition and a new publication (Recollections), comprising many previously unseen images from Britain in the 1950s, 60s, and 70s.
His often wry observations created a backdrop of social and political commentary during a time of great change and upheaval in the country – from the Beatles in Liverpool, politicians, artists, and actors to CND protests on the streets and the conflict in Northern Ireland, Recollections was a timely reminder of Philip’s unique viewpoint on the world, no matter where he was.
PJGX: Philip Jones Griffiths – Ten Year Anniversary exhibition runs from 19 March to 21 April 2018 at TJ Boulting & Philip Jones Griffiths: Icons an exhibition runs from 5 June to 27 July 2018 at Magnum Print Room.