Tate Liverpool to show work of British photographer Don McCullin

Don McCullin

Don McCullin, Liverpool 8, 1961. Tate Purchased 2012, Copyright Don McCullin

LIVERPOOL – Today Tate Liverpool announces a major retrospective of the legendary British photographer Don McCullin (b. 1935-) as its summer exhibition in 2020. Following the huge success of Don McCullin at Tate Britain in spring 2019, the exhibition will tour to Tate Liverpool where it will be on display from 5 June until 27 September 2020. Exclusively for its presentation at Tate Liverpool it will feature a number of additional images, not shown in Tate Britain, of Liverpool and the wider region.

Featuring more than 250 photographs, the exhibition showcases some of his most impactful photographs captured over the last 60 years. It features many of his iconic war photographs – including images from Vietnam, Northern Ireland and more recently Syria. But it also focuses on the work he did at home in the UK, recording scenes of poverty and working-class life in the industrial north and London’s East End, as well as meditative landscapes of his beloved Somerset, where he lives. Alongside McCullin’s hand-printed silver gelatin prints, the exhibition also includes the photographer’s magazine spreads, contact sheets, his helmet and the Nikon camera which took a bullet for him in Cambodia.

Don McCullin

Don McCullin, Shell-shocked US Marine, The Battle of Hue, 1968; printed 2013 ARTIST ROOMS Tate and National Galleries of Scotland. Presented by the artist 2014. Copyright Don McCullin

For the presentation at Tate Liverpool the exhibition will show additional photographs further depicting life and industrial scenes of Liverpool and other northern towns and cities during the 1960s and 70s. Having been born into a working-class family in London, McCullin identified with the most deprived parts of the north of the UK, including areas of Bradford and Liverpool. He recognized his own origins in the conditions of those he photographed and was committed to the practice of “reporting back” and publicly highlighting these areas that were largely unseen by the British middle classes.

Helen Legg, Director, Tate Liverpool, said: ‘The public and critical response to the exhibition at Tate Britain was overwhelmingly positive and we’re thrilled to be bringing this large-scale show to Liverpool. We hope audiences will enjoy this opportunity to see his powerful images which cover the major conflicts of the last half century alongside McCullin’s historic images of Liverpool and the wider north of England.”

Don McCullin said “I first visited Liverpool as a boy of 15 when I worked on a steam train that went into the city three or four times a week. As a young man I returned as a photojournalist. I spent time with artists and poets including Adrian Henri and Brian Patten for a Telegraph Magazine story written by Roger McGough; documented the police for The Sunday Times in the 1970s; and collaborated with Jonathan Miller on an assignment for The Observer. It was a unique city but felt familiar to me as someone who grew up in an area that was also left impoverished by policies of deindustrialization. I’m delighted to be showing my work at Tate Liverpool and to have the opportunity to return to the city, a place I love and has played a major part in my life and career.”

Don McCullin

Don McCullin, Local Boys in Bradford, 1972. Copyright Don McCullin

Don McCullin was born in 1935 in Finsbury Park, London, and became a photographer during National Service in the RAF. He began taking photographs in 1958, documenting his surroundings and local community. In 1959 his photograph The Guvnors, a portrait of a notorious local gang, was published in The Observer, launching his career as a photojournalist.

In 1961, McCullin travelled to Germany on his own initiative, funding the trip himself, to photograph the building of the Berlin Wall. The images he took won him a British Press Award and a permanent contract with The Observer. He is most famous for his photographs of war, in which he focuses on the effects of conflict on civilians. Many of these images were taken for The Sunday Times Magazine, for which he was a foreign correspondent between 1966 and 1984.

Don McCullin will be presented at Tate Liverpool from 5 June 5 – September 27, 2020. The exhibition tours from Tate Britain where it was on display from February 5 – May 6, 2019. The exhibition was originally conceived by Simon Baker, Director of The Maison Européene de la Photographie, Paris, with Shoair Mavlian, Director of Photoworks, assisted by Aïcha Mehrez, Assistant Curator of Contemporary British Art, Tate Britain. The exhibition at Tate Liverpool is co-curated by Tamar Hemmes, Assistant Curator Tate Liverpool, and Aïcha Mehrez. It is accompanied by a fully illustrated catalog.

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