Phillip Jones Griffiths 1936-2008

Phillip Jones Griffiths died yesterday at his home in London, aged 72. 

You can read more about him on the Magnum Blog, in a short tribute by Stuart Franklin, which links to a number of his Magnum features, as well as to an obituary in the New York Times by Randy Kennedy. Franklyn quotes his former Magnum colleague of many years, Henri Cartier-Bresson, who was also one of his great photographic inspirations, as writing what is perhaps the best epitaph for him some years ago:

“not since Goya has anyone portrayed war like Philip Jones Griffiths”

Jones Griffiths had been suffering from cancer for some time, but had continued to organise his work and to lecture until very recently – including a talk in London a couple of months ago.

I posted only this morning about the new Magnum WARS set of four features inspired by his work and including him with four of Magnum’s best war photographers of the current generation, and a couple of weeks ago about an interview with him, and I’d previously written several times about his work, including a fairly lengthy section in a short online history of war photography.

He was a man whose photography – and life – always asked questions, didn’t accept the accepted wisdom, the status quo, but as Kennedy’s obit ends, always wanted his photography “to say to say ‘Why?’”

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