George Rodger

British, b. 1908 - d. 1995

Born in Cheshire, George Rodger served in the British Merchant Navy. After a short spell in America, he worked as a photographer for the BBC's The Listener magazine, followed in 1938 by a brief stint working for the Black Star Agency.

His pictures of the London blitz brought him to the attention of Life magazine, and he became a war correspondent. He won eighteen campaign medals covering Free French activities in West Africa, and went on to document the war front in Eritrea, Abyssinia and the Western Desert. He travelled to Iran, Burma, North Africa, Sicily and Salerno, Italy, where he met and befriended Robert Capa.

Having covered the liberation of France, Belgium and Holland, Rodger was the first photographer to enter Bergen-Belsen concentration camp in April 1945. In May he photographed the German surrender at Lüneburg for Time and Life. Traumatized by the experience of looking for 'nice compositions' in front of the dead, Rodger embarked on a 28,000-mile journey all over Africa and the Middle East, focusing on animal life, rituals, and ways of life that exist in a close relationship with nature.

In 1947 Rodger was invited to join Robert Capa, Henri Cartier-Bresson, David Seymour and William Vandivert in founding Magnum. His next major trip was a Cape-to-Cairo trans-Africa journey, during which he made extraordinary pictures of the Kordofan Nuba tribe which first appeared in National Geographic in 1951. Africa remained a preoccupation for him for over thirty years.

Enormously successful during his lifetime, George Rodger died in Kent on 24 July 1995.


Education

1921/25  St. Bee’s College, Cumbria, UK

Awards

1993       Honorary Fellow of Royal Photographic Society
1993       Honorary Fellow of Kent Institute of Art and Design, 1993
1985       First Prize at "Peace in the World" exhibition in Moscow, U.S.S.R. (now Russia)

Exhibitions

2004       Retrospective – Photo Gallery International, Tokyo, Japan
2004       The African Photographs (with Ian Berry) – Brunei Gallery, London, UK
2000/01  George Rodger Retrospective – Doisneau Gallery, Paris, France; Barry Singer 
              Gallery, Petaluma, Ca, USA; Leica Gallery, New York, USA
1999       Village of the Nubas – Focus Gallery, London, UK
1999       G. Ray Hawkins Gallery, Santa Monica, California (exhibition with Peter Rodger)
1998       Amnesty International Speech in Honour of George Rodger – The Photographers’ 
              Gallery Print Room, London, UK
1996       A Photographic Journey – Birmingham Art Gallery, Birmingham, UK
1996       The African Photographs – National Gallery of Scotland, Edinburgh, Scotland, UK
1996       La Promenade des Anglais, Nice, France
1996       George Rodger, Photographer – Kent Library, Ashford, Kent, UK
1994       Lichtbild Gallery, Bremen, Germany; University of Kent; Royal Photographic 
              Society, Bath, UK
1993       Kent Institute of Art and Design, Maidstone and Rochester, UK; Vision Gallery, San 
              Francisco, USA
1992       Winston Churchill: Britain at War - Churchill House, London, UK
1991       Portfolio Gallery, Edinburgh, Scotland, UK; Guillaume Gallozzi Gallery, New York,
              USA
1990       Le Port, Réunion Island, Africa
1990       The Blitz - Picto at Bastille, Paris, France; National Museum of Film, Photography 
              and TV, Bradford, UK; Navy Museum, Washington D.C., USA
1990       Musée de l'Elysée, Lausanne, France; Musée de la Photographie, Charleroi, Belgium; 
              Astley- Cheetham Gallery, Stalybridge, UK; Stockport Arts Center, Manchester, UK
1989       Oriel Clywd, Wrexham, Wales; Bolton Art Gallery, Bolton, UK; Wakefield Art 
              Gallery, Wakefield, UK
1988       Mid-Pennine Arts, Burnely, UK; Metropole, Folkestone, Kent, UK; Anthropological 
              Museum, University of Aberdeen, Scotland
1987       Photographers' Gallery, London
1986       Cyprus National Bank, Nicosia and Limasso, Cyprus
1986       Fifty Photos from the 50s - Amsterdam Foto, Amsterdam, Netherlands
1984/86  Tribal Africa - FNAC Montparnasse, Paris; Ecole Régionale des Beaux-Arts, 
              Dunkerque, France; Magnum Gallery, Paris, France; Espace Image Gallery, 
              Marseille, France; Musée des Beaux-Arts, Angouléme, France
1982       London Faces the Blitz - Photogallery, St Leonard's-on-Sea, UK
1982       Contrast Gallery, London, UK
1979       The Photographers' Gallery, London, UK; FNAC, Montparnasse, Paris, France
1978       Tribal Africa - University of South Africa, Pretoria, South Africa
1975       Photographer for Life - Canterbury City Library, Canterbury, UK
1974       Photographers' Gallery, London

Books

1999       George Rodger, Photographic Voyager (text by Carroll Naggar and Barry Singer), 
              Barry Singer Gallery, USA)
1997       George Rodger: The African Photographs (text by Bruce Bernard), The British 
              Council, UK
1994/99  Humanity and Inhumanity: The Photographic Journey of George Rodger (text by 
              Bruce Bernard), Phaidon, USA   
1990/91  The Blitz: The Photography of George Rodger, Viking, UK/E Rutherford: Penguin, 
              USA
1987       George Rodger, Magnum Opus: Fifty Years in Photojournalism, Dirk Nishen, 
              UK and Germany
1975       World of the Horse (with Judith Campbell), Octopus and Ridge Press, UK/USA
1974       George Rodger, Gordon Fraser/Arts Council of Great Britain, UK
1955/99  Village of the Nubas, Delpire, France/Phaidon, UK
1944       Desert Journey, The Cresset Press, UK
1943       Red Moon Rising, The Cresset Press, UK
1943       Far on the Ringing Plains, The Macmillan Company, USA