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Gilles Peress
Date: French, b. 1946
Biography:

Born in Neuilly-sur-Seine, Gilles Peress made his first photographic series in 1970 after attending the Institut d'Études Politiques (1966-68) and the Université de Vincennes (1968-71). By 1971, he had established himself as a freelance photographer, publishing work in Du, the London Sunday Times, The New York Times Magazine, Photo, and other periodicals. In 1972 he joined Magnum, the international cooperative photography agency founded in 1947 by Henri Cartier-Bresson, Robert Capa, George Rodger, and Chim (David Seymour); he has served twice as the organization's president. A National Endowment for the Arts grant in 1979 allowed him to travel to Iran, where he made the photographs published as Telex: Iran--In the Name of Revolution (1984), his first book. Other major projects include his documentation of the Irish civil war from 1971 to 1979, published as An Eye for an Eye: Northern Ireland (1986), and Hate Thy Brother, an ongoing cycle of photographs documenting the resurgence of extreme nationalism around the world. Peress's work has been included in group exhibitions at the Musée d'Art Moderne in Paris, the Corcoran Gallery of Art, ICP, and elsewhere. He has received, among other honors, a W. Eugene Smith Award, the Ernst Haas Award, a Guggenheim Fellowship, and ICP's Infinity Awards for Journalism in 1995 and for his publication The Silence in 1996.

Gilles Peress's photography demonstrates his uncommon ability to navigate and communicate the atmosphere and urgency of volatile political environments. While his early work identified him as a "concerned photographer," his more recent work suggests an increasing concern with form and a more obvious sense of subjectivity. In this respect, Peress's photographs echo the photojournalism of Henri Cartier-Bresson, whose conflation of aesthetics and reportage set the precedent for artistic photojournalism earlier in the century.

Lisa Hostetler

Handy et al. Reflections in a Glass Eye: Works from the International Center of Photography Collection, New York: Bulfinch Press in association with the International Center of Photography, 1999, p. 225.