After photographing the horrors of Bergen-Belsen, Rodger sought refuge in Africa’s people and landscape, becoming Magnum’s correspondent to the continent in 1947. The pictures of his trip through the Algerian desert in 1957 are as much about his personal experience, travelling with his wife Jinx Rodger, as they are of his surroundings. His encounters with the local Tuareg, recounted in his caption sheets which are included in the exhibition, are welcoming – the travellers were frequently invited into their homes, where Rodger appears to have been able to photograph freely. Even in his later work from Tunis and its environs, about which we have less written information, the camera is unchallenged. Pictured here, Palmeries of Kerzaz near the Great Western Erg, Sahara, Algeria.

You must feel an affinity for what you are photographing. You must be part of it, and yet remain sufficiently detached to see it objectively. Like watching from the audience a play you already know by heart

George Rodger
© George Rodger | Magnum Photos

Born in Cheshire in 1908, George Rodger served in the British Merchant Navy. 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 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 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. Africa remained a preoccupation for him for over thirty years.

George Rodger died in Kent on 24 July 1995.

© George Rodger | Magnum Photos

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