Synopses & Reviews
Photographs and commentary by Philip Jones Griffiths
Biographical profile by Murray Sayle
Philip Jones Griffiths, one of this century's master photographers, is unparalleled at creating relentlessly perceptive images that encompass the beauty, the atrocities, the ceremonies, the moments of brutality and compassion that coalesce as history. Griffith's eagerly anticipated retrospective Dark Odyssey traces his forty-year journey through this chaotic world, from the wide horizon of his native Wales to the ravaged villages of war-torn Vietnam, in more than one hundred astounding black-and-white photographs.
In each of his pictures, Griffiths creates a complex diagram of meaning and emotion. The collision of culture and ideology is often the basis of the work--sometimes in a simple pairing of figures, sometimes in a dizzying throng of life: the arresting, straightforward gazes of a Vietnamese child and her war-disfigured mother; the dazed face of a woman lost among the multitude of graves at a cemetery in Hiroshima; the wicked glee of a boy about to hurl a boulder into a grand piano, outside under an ominously dark sky. Griffiths's photogarphs tackle love, death, frivolity, politics, violence . . . they comment--ironically and profoundly--on virtually every aspect of human life, offering a gripping and unforgettable view of both the devastations and the beauties of our era.
With an in-depth critical profile by renowned New Yorker writer Murry Sayle--who has known Griffiths for more than thirty years--Dark Odyssey also includes poignant narrative notes by the photographer himself. "I have traveled to over one hundred and forty countries trying to make sense of it all," Griffiths writes. "I have discovered that almost every belief we hold collapses under scrutiny--the 'truth' is often simply a tool that serves someone else's purpose." This skepticism and this sense of awe are palpable in every one of Griffiths's masterful photographs.
"Not since Goya has anyone portrayed war like Philip Jones Griffiths."--Henri Cariter-Bresson
About the Author
Born in Rhuddlan, Wales, in 1936, Philip Jones Griffiths
began his career as a pharmacist, but turned to photography in the early 1960s. As a free-lance photojournalist, he covered the wars in Algeria and Vietnam (his book Vietnam Inc.
was published in 1971), and in the 1970s worked in Cambodia and Thailand. Griffiths moved to New York City in 1980 to assume the post of president at the Magnum Photo agency--a position he held for a record five years. His photographs have appeared in every major magazine in the world, including Life
, and Geo
Griffiths has also made several documentary films, on subjects ranging from the Ho Chi Minh Trail to the descendants of the HMS Bounty living on Pitcairn Island. A Welsh Eye, a film about the photographer, was shown in Britain in 1991.
Murray Sayle has written for Encounter, Harper's, Life, The New Republic, The New Statesman, The Spectator, The New Yorker, The New York Times Review of Books, The New York Review of Books, and many other publications.