PHILIP JONES GRIFFITHS: Photographs from five decades on the frontlines of history
“Not since Goya has anyone portrayed war like Philip Jones Griffiths“ – Henri Cartier-Bresson
The Patchogue Arts Council, Briarcliffe College, and Magnum Photos are pleased to sponsor an exhibition of legendary Magnum photographer Philip Jones Griffiths’ finest work from five decades on the frontlines of history.
When this exhibit first opened, the New York Times commented, “For half a century, this documentary photographer has been placing himself squarely in harm’s way to record military violence. His pictures of the American war in Vietnam, which make up a substantial part of this show, amount to one of the great tragic portraits of their time and are required viewing in ours.”
Tackling love, death, frivolity, politics and violence, Griffiths’ photographs comment ironically and profoundly on virtually every aspect of human life. On the first anniversary of his death, this exhibit traces his 50-year journey from his native Wales to his most recent work in post-war Viet Nam. Holly Gordon, one of the exhibit curators, said, “His photographs are icons, giving that era a face it will live with forever.” PAC vice-president and co-curator Karen Ferb said,” His Vietnam photography transcends the differences over the war here at home, and his images draw conflicting emotions; the horror of war is tempered with humility, terror with beauty, and despair with hope. It is fitting that many of Griffiths’ photographs played a significant role in changing public attitudes about the war. Many of the pictures included in this exhibit are among the most unforgettable images of war ever made.” Members of the curatorial team also include Holly Gordon and John Cino (PAC). Lou Commisso (Briarcliffe College) has given valuable assistance.
Other photographs in the exhibit capture the essence of the British presence in Northern Ireland and colonialism in Rhodesia. He became a member, then president, of the prestigious Magnum Photo agency for a record five years. He also worked for Life magazine and others.
Running concurrently is a small exhibition from Street Vision, the Ho Chi Minh City based project of the international charity PhotoVoice. The Street Vision photographs by Vietnamese street kids documenting their lives, fears, and hopes were selected by Griffiths expressly for this exhibit. PAC president Chip Hunter said, “Those who are often seen only through the eyes of a photojournalist are given cameras to ‘see’ for themselves.”