Philip Jones Griffiths

British (Welsh), b. 1936, d. 2008

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.

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

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


Exhibitions

2008       Recollections - National Conservation Centre, Liverpool, UK
2007       Middle Years - Savignano Immagini Festival, Italy
2007       Middle Years - Trolley Gallery, London, UK
2006       Fifty Years on the Frontline - Southeast Museum of Photography, Daytona, 
              USA
2005       Fifty Years of Frontline - Denise Bibro Fine Art, New York, USA
2004       Agent Orange - Side Photographic Gallery, Newcastle-upon-Tyne, UK
1996       Dark Odyssey - National Museum of Wales, Cardiff, UK
1992       Retrospective – Madrid, Spain
1990       Retrospective - Photofest, Houston, Texas, USA
1985       Magnum Concert - Musee d’Art et Histoire, Fribourg, Switzerland
1985       Magnum Photographs: 1932-1967- Pace/MacGill Gallery, New York, 
              USA

Books

2005       Vietnam at Peace, Trolley, UK  
2003       Agent Orange-Collateral Damage in Vietnam, Trolley, UK       
1996       Dark Odyssey, Aperture, USA
1992       Philip Jones Griffiths: una vision retrospectiva (1952-1988), Consorcio 
              para la Organizacion de Madrid Capital Europea de la Cultura, Spain
1979       Bangkok, Amsterdam Time-Life, the Netherlands
1971/01  Vietnam Inc., Collier, USA; Phaidon, UK