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James Nachtwey, Chechnya, 1996, archival pigment print, 100% cotton fiber paper, Ed. of 30

"I have been a witness, and these pictures are my testimony.
The events I have recorded should not be forgotten and must not be repeated."
— James Nachtwey —

"I believe in the power of information [...]. My work is intended to be in the mass media at the time [the] events are taking place, so it becomes part of people’s daily dialogue. But a secondary use for the pictures is to be contemplated outside of that context. As much as photography is about a single moment, it's also timeless. When you see pictures isolated from the news, you contemplate them in a different way."
// From the Interview "I believe in the power of information": James Nachtwey in conversation with Hilary Roberts, 05 March 2020


Born in 1948, Syracuse, USA.

Since 1981, James Nachtwey has dedicated his career to documenting wars, conflicts and critical social issues, worldwide. To cite a few examples of his ongoing work, Nachtwey documented the violent breakup of the former Yugoslavia, the wars in Chechnya, civil strife in Northern Ireland and most recently, the Russian invasion of Ukraine. In Africa, he photographed the genocide in Rwanda, famines in Somalia and Sudan and the liberation struggle in South Africa. He documented the civil wars that engulfed Central America during the 1980s and the American invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq, where he was wounded in a grenade attack. In Asia, he documented the overthrow of dictatorships in the Philippines, South Korea and Indonesia, as well as natural disasters in Japan and Nepal, and the extrajudicial ‘war on drugs’ in the Philippines. He has pursued social issues throughout the world with equal dedication. State-sanctioned, institutional abuse of orphans in Romania, homelessness, drug addiction, poverty, crime, global health issues and industrial pollution are a few of the subjects he has photographed extensively.

He has received numerous awards from the journalism profession, as well as for contributions to art and humanitarian causes. In 2003 he received the Dan David Prize. In 2007 he was a recipient of both the TED Prize and the Heinz Family Foundation Award for the arts. In 2012 he was awarded the Dresden Prize, for promoting world peace. In 2016, Nachtwey was a recipient of the Princess of Asturias Award. Five times Nachtwey has been awarded the Robert Capa Gold Medal, for exceptional courage and enterprise, and the World Press Photo Award twice. He received the W. Eugene Smith Memorial Grant in Humanistic Photography and has been named Magazine Photographer of the Year eight times.

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, including the International Center of Photography in New York, Maison Européenne de la Photographie in Paris, Palazzo Reale in Milan, El Círculo de Bellas Artes in Madrid, Bibliothèque nationale de France in Paris, Foam Fotografiemuseum in Amsterdam, Museum of Photographic Arts in San Diego, Fotografiska in Stockholm, New York and Tallinn, Palazzo delle Esposizione in Rome, Karolinum in Prague, the Hasselblad Center in Göteborg, Sweden, Fondazione Palazzo Magnani in Reggio Emilia, Italy and C/O Berlin, among others.

In 2001, War Photographer, a feature length documentary film about the life and work of James Nachtwey, directed by Christian Frei, was nominated for an Academy Award. His books include Deeds of War and Inferno.

Nachtwey has been awarded four honorary doctorate degrees from American universities, including Dartmouth College, which recently acquired the entire archive of his life’s work.