Don McCullin

Tate Britain.

A smallish exhibition, a side room. Running through his career. B& W. Dark dark prints. The whites are white but the rest of the images seem to cover themCl…..whites only there not to have a black page?  Or is it just the subject. War and poverty? but even the landscapes are so. They are a good size, they don’t hide but neither are they wall coverings. None of the roman work but draws toward it. Flowing from violence (of many types) to the landscapes and rivers and the history invested in them. People ….close up and set amongst backgrounds. Coming across images. No rules of invention. Exploring life. Documentary photography. In some ways the lightest pictures seem to be of Berlin. The wall going up. But there seems to be light. More mid range tones. Almost sepia? Perhaps the Wall marked the change. Greys dropping away, growing darker. The white. Spitalfields portraits. Eye contact. Humanity. Larger than life? And then the same people on the streets. The faces shouting or laying on the floor. Huddling round a fire. The portraits show the human, the scenes suggest to us how we look at the homeless. That we rob them of the humanity. That we wish them invisible? Next: images of the industrial north. The cities and people of the mill and the mine. In an interview with Don McCullin seems to place these images closer to his landscapes than the portraits? That they are the effects of the industrial on the landscape, which they are but they contain figures. Perhaps more distant but they are there and thus they seem to fit for me more closely with the London images than the landscapes. The figures leave his images. Crowds in Berlin. Singles and groups in London, parents and children and singles in the industrial north and then they are gone. The people have left. A sense of quiet? recovery. Peace from all the war and tragedy. Less punchy. The don’t need that kind of impact, they have a different purpose. A different result. Winter lights. Clouds.

This aren’t the usual McCullin set of pictures. This is not him as war reporter (that’s at the Imperial War Museum) but he always seems to be at war……….


Interview video.


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