LONDON – The Tate Britain Gallery was on Monday preparing to open its doors to a comprehensive retrospective on the work of Don McCullin, allowing visitors a chance to get close to some of his unflinching imagery, capturing decades of conflict and social documentary photography all depicted in stark black and white.
Widely considered one of the masters of the trade, Don McCullin (b. 1935) started his career documenting his surroundings, deprived areas of London, before making his name as a fearless and intrepid photojournalist covering upheavals across the globe from Biafra to the Vietnam War and the Troubles in Northern Ireland.
“With over 250 photographs, all printed by McCullin himself in his own darkroom, this exhibition will be a unique opportunity to appreciate the scope and achievements of his entire career,” the gallery said in a statement.
The collection of photographs at the retrospective, which is due to run from Feb. 5 – May 6, includes the evocative portrait “Cyprus” which depicts a Turkish-Cypriot woman gripped in grief following the killing of her husband during the Cyprus Crisis (1955-64). The image, taken on one of the photographer’s first major international assignments, was awarded the World Press Photo of the Year in 1964.
Also in the collection is his “Shell-shocked US Marine, The Battle of Hue,” taken in 1968 during the Vietnam War. The image shows a soldier at close-quarters, gripping the nozzle of his rifle and staring into space.
McCullin became a regular at the Sunday Times Magazine, which at the time was highly-regarded for its unblinking coverage of current events.
In the documentary “McCullin” (2012), the photographer recalled how the soldier has the same look in his eyes in each of the photographs on the contact print.
In his later years, McCullin turned predominantly to black and white landscape photography and portraiture.
However, despite being 83, the photographer embarked on a trip to Syria in 2018 to witness the destruction at the ancient Roman archaeological site Palmyra, which was held for months by the Islamic State terror organization, who used the UNESCO-listed ruins as a morbid stage for mass executions.
McCullin was born in Finsbury Park, north London, in 1935. He was evacuated to Somerset, southwest England during World War II, where he now resides with his family.