Last Updated July 13, 2018

Philip Jones Griffiths

British (Born 1936 - Died 2008 ) FREE LISTING Featured
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DESCRIPTION / BIOGRAPHY
Born in Rhuddlan, Wales, Philip Jones Griffiths studied pharmacy in Liverpool and worked in London while photographing part-time for the Manchester Guardian. In 1961, he became a full-time freelancer for the London-based Observer. He covered the Algerian War in 1962, then moved to Central Africa. From there he moved to Asia, photographing in Vietnam from 1966 to 1971.

His book on the war, 'Vietnam Inc.', crystallized public opinion and gave form to Western misgivings about American involvement in Vietnam. One of the most detailed surveys of any conflict, 'Vietnam Inc.' is also an in-depth document of Vietnamese culture under attack. Magnum initially found his images difficult to sell to American magazines, as they concentrated on the suffering of the Vietnamese people and reflected his view of the war as an episode in the continuing decolonisation of former European possessions. However, he was eventually able to get a scoop that the American outlets liked: photographs of Jackie Kennedy holidaying with a male friend in Cambodia. The proceeds from these photos enabled him to continue his coverage of Vietnam and to publish his book, 'Vietnam Inc.' in 1971.

An associate member of Magnum since 1966, Griffiths became a member in 1971. In 1973, he covered the Yom Kippur War and then worked in Cambodia between 1973 and 1975. In 1977, he covered Asia from his base in Thailand. In 1980, Griffiths moved to New York to assume the presidency of Magnum, a post he held for a record five years.

Griffiths’ assignments, often self-engineered, took him to more than 120 countries. He continued to work for major publications such as Life and Geo on stories such as Buddhism in Cambodia, droughts in India, poverty in Texas, the re-greening of Vietnam, and the legacy of the Gulf War in Kuwait. His continued revisiting of Vietnam, examining the legacy of the war, lead to his two further books 'Agent Orange' and 'Vietnam at Peace'.

Griffiths’ work reflects on the unequal relationship between technology and humanity, summed up in his book 'Dark Odyssey'. Human foolishness always attracted Griffiths’ eye, but, faithful to the ethics of the Magnum founders, he believed in human dignity and in the capacity for improvement

In 2000 Jones Griffiths launched a Foundation to preserve his archives. As trustees, his two daughters helm the Foundation. One of the aims of the Foundation is to further the education of the public in the art and science of photography with a particular emphasis on helping and aiding young photojournalists.

Philip Jones Griffiths died at home in West London on 19th March 2008.

In 2015, the National Library of Wales in Aberystwyth acquired the entire Philip Jones Griffiths archive, which includes approximately 150,000 slides and 30,000 prints.

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