James Nachtwey was born in the state of New York and graduated from Dartmouth College, where he studied art history and political science. He was influenced to become a photographer by images of the Vietnam War and the American Civil Rights Movement. He began his career as a newspaper photographer in 1976 and became a freelance in 1980. Since then, he has worked worldwide, committed to documenting wars and critical social issues.
Nachtwey has been a contract photographer with TIME Magazine since 1984. He was a member of Magnum between 1986 and 2000 and was one of the founders of the photo agency VII, where he was a member from 2001 to 2008, when he became independent.
Nachtwey’s images focus on the impact of injustice and violence, yet they evoke a sense of compassion and sympathy. Within large-scale historical events of global impact, he documents intimate moments of humanity. His photographs can appear to have a formal completeness, but they are spontaneous, intuitive and often composed in a fraction of a second.
”As a photographer, he is gifted with the ability to capture striking compositions, acting as an observer of the world in which we live often endangering his own life, but always with the greatest respect for the most vulnerable – the civilian casualties. Nachtwey is an extraordinary observer and an acute witness, who has devoted his career to documenting some of the most crucial issues of contemporary history. That Fotografiska now show this extraordinary important exhibition Memoria is part of our vision to inspire a more conscious world”, says Lisa Hydén, Exhibition Manager at Fotografiska.
To quote the film director Wim Wenders during the laudatory speech when Nachtwey received the Dresden Prize:
“…because he has never stopped believing that there is reason behind his work, because he has never stopped believing that his images have their greatest possible effect only if the eye and the heart behind them have an unfailing faith in humanity and its ability for compassion. For all of these reasons and many more we should stop calling him a “war photographer.” Instead, look upon him as a man of peace, a man whose longing for peace makes him go to war and expose himself… in order to make peace”.
Nachtwey has received numerous awards from the journalism profession, as well as for his contributions to art and to humanitarian causes. In 2001 was a recipient of the Common Wealth Award. In 2003 he received the Dan David Prize, and in 2007 the TED Prize as well as the Heinz Award, for Arts and Humanities. In 2012 he received the Dresden Prize, for promoting international peace. In 2016, Nachtwey was a recipient of the Princess of Asturias Award. In 2017, he was inducted into the International Photography Hall of Fame.
Five times Nachtwey has been awarded the Robert Capa Gold Medal, for exceptional courage and enterprise. He has been named Magazine Photographer of the Year eight times. He’s received the top prize from the World Press Photo Foundation twice, the Infinity Award for photojournalism three times, the Bayeaux Award for war correspondents twice and the Leica Award twice. He has been the recipient of lifetime achievement awards from the Overseas Press Club, TIME, Inc., and the American Society of Magazine Editors. In addition, he has received the Henry Luce Award for corporate leadership, the Leipzig Foundation award for the advancement of freedom of the press, and the Dr. Jean Mayer Global Citizenship Award.
In 2001, “War Photographer”, a feature length documentary film, directed by Christian Frei, about the life and work of James Nachtwey was nominated for an Academy Award. His books include Deeds of War and Inferno.
Nachtwey’s photographs are included in the permanent collections of the Museum of Modern Art, the Whitney Museum of American Art, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, the Boston Museum of Fine Arts, the Bibliotheque nationale de France, the Pompidou Center and the Getty Museum among other venues. He has had numerous solo exhibitions worldwide.
He has received honorary doctorate degrees from Dartmouth College, Academy of Art University, Massachusetts College of Art and St. Michaels College and an honorary professorship from Shandong University.
As he continues his work in the field as a practicing documentary photographer, Nachtwey has become a Provostial Fellow at Dartmouth, which has acquired the archive of his life’s work.
Gallery name: Fotografiska Tallinn
Address: Telliskivi 60a/8, Tallinn
Opening hours: Mon, Sun 09:00 - 21:00, Tue-Thu 09:00 - 23:00, Fri-Sat 09:00 - 01:00
Open: 29.11.2019 - 01.03.2020