If you haven’t heard of Don McCullin then it’s likely you’ve been living in an underground bunker for the last 50 years. His work as a photojournalist has shaped the way that the world sees war, laying bare the horrific truth and surprising beauty which can be found in some of the worlds most dangerous conflicts. His latest book Shaped by War is a retrospective, in the best sense of the word, detailing the career of an extraordinarily courageous man and gifted photographer to boot. Images range from McCullin’s influences and childhood photos to some of his most iconic work, showing the evolution of an artist.
The most refreshing thing about the book is that it doesn’t take itself too seriously and yet it handles the truth of war with the utmost care and respect. Through this powerful collection of images and stories we are able, for the first time in many cases, to see behind the scenes of a life lived on the edge and the often hidden bureaucracy which comes with documenting sensitive political affairs.
As a child growing up in London during the Blitz, McCullin feels that he has been shaped by war and what this book demonstrates so eloquently is just how we are all shaped by war in one way or another. The book accompanies a major touring exhibition of McCullin’s images and photographic paraphernalia (including cameras with bullet holes puncturing the casing) but is an exceptional piece of work in its own right, well worth the ￡25 price tag.
Shaped by War can be seen at,
Imperial War Museum North, Manchester, February 6 – June 13 2010
Victoria Art Gallery, Bath, September 11 – November 21 2010
Imperial War Museum, London, October 7 2011 – January 30 2012