Beyond the Battlefield
Exploring the Artistic Vision of War Photographers

Don McCullin “The River Alham that runs through my village in Somerset,” mid-1990s. © Don McCullin & Hauser & Wirth.

SEE YOU IN MY DREAMS! Stanley Green’s Intimate Diary in Letters and Polaroids, the current exhibition at the Galerie de Buci, shows the polaroid pictures taken by a legendary war photographer in an intimate setting, far from the conflict scenes he was used to portraying. The show brings up the idea that artists are seldom limited to one medium, or one subject matter. In this article, we discover how other icons of war photojournalism have and continue to use photography in lesser known settings. From Robert Capa's intimate portraits of artists to Don McCullin's tranquil landscapes, Margaret Bourke-White's architectural wonders to Steve McCurry's captivating wildlife and Susan Meiselas' immersive portrayal of carnival culture, each photographer offers a distinct lens to view the world and its many realities, distinct from their more well-known conflict-oriented work.
Serie "Anna. Moscow”, 2001 © Stanley Greene / Private collection
In the realm of war reporting, photographers are often lauded for their unyielding commitment to capturing the harsh realities of conflict and crisis. Their cameras bear witness to the chaos and devastation of war, documenting the human toll with unwavering precision. Yet, afar from the chaos of battlefields and war zones, lies a lesser-known aspect of their craft—a more introspective and artistic exploration that transcends the confines of conflict. Join us as we delve into the artistic vision of renowned war photographers, revealing their ability to wield their cameras in a more contemplative and less war-oriented manner.

Robert Capa
Renowned for his iconic images from the frontlines of World War II and the Spanish Civil War, Robert Capa's legacy extends far beyond the battlefield. While his name may be synonymous with the intensity and brutality of conflict, Capa also possessed a keen eye for the quieter moments of life. Throughout his career, Capa had the opportunity to photograph renowned figures from the worlds of art, literature, and entertainment. His lens provided a glimpse into the private lives of these individuals, revealing moments of vulnerability, spontaneity, and authenticity.Take, for instance, his intimate portrait titled "Picasso with His Son Claude" (1944). In this tender moment captured on film, we see the renowned artist Pablo Picasso embracing his son Claude, the warmth of their bond palpable even in black and white. It's a departure from Capa's war photography, showcasing his ability to capture the essence of personalities in a more personal context.

«If your pictures aren't good enough, you aren't close enough».


Robert Capa, “Pablo Picasso with his son Claude.” Golfe-Juan, France. August, 1948.
© Robert Capa Magnum Photos

Don McCullin
Don McCullin is a distinguished British photojournalist, widely celebrated for his profound and evocative portrayal of wars and humanitarian crises across the globe. However, his landscape photography serves as a testament to his ability to transcend the harrowing realities of war and explore the beauty and serenity of the natural world. Drawing upon the mastery acquired through years of documenting conflict, McCullin approaches landscape photography with a keen eye for composition, light, and emotion. One notable example is his photograph of the river that passes by his village in Somerset, captured in the mid-1990s. In this image, McCullin employs his signature black-and-white aesthetic to capture the timeless and sober tranquility of the rural landscape. The river, winding its way through lush greenery, exudes a sense of quietude and contemplation. Through his lens, McCullin reveals the inherent poetry and resilience of nature, inviting viewers to immerse themselves in the beauty of the world beyond the battlefield.
«Photography isn't about seeing, it's about feeling».
Don McCullin “The River Alham that runs through my village in Somerset,” mid-1990s. © Don McCullin & Hauser & Wirth.

Margaret Bourke-White
Margaret Bourke-White's pioneering spirit knew no bounds, extending her artistic reach far beyond the landscapes of conflict she's best known for. While her iconic images from World War II and the Great Depression etched her name into history, Bourke-White was fascinated with contemporary architecture and urban settings, evidenced by the series she did on the topic. One need only gaze upon her photograph "Chrysler Building at Night" (1931) to grasp her profound talent for capturing architectural marvels. In this striking image, the Chrysler Building stands tall against the sky, its shining spire reaching upwards with an aura of grandeur and elegance. This departure from Bourke-White's documentary work not only showcases her keen interest in visual aesthetics but also her masterful manipulation of light and shadow to portray urban landscapes with a focus on their beauty and sophistication.

«Photography is a very subtle thing. You must let the camera take you by the hand, as it were, and lead you into the subject ».

Margaret Bourke-White "Chrysler Building: Tower" (1931). © Margaret Bourke-White

Steve McCurry
Steve McCurry, a luminary in the world of photography, is renowned for his captivating and deeply emotive imagery that transcends borders and cultures. Widely acclaimed for his iconic photograph "Afghan Girl," McCurry has cemented his legacy as one of the most influential photojournalists of our time. While his work often delves into the complexities of conflict and human suffering, McCurry's artistic vision extends far beyond the realm of war. In particular, his exploration of wildlife and nature in Asia showcases a different facet of his photography. One notable example is his photograph captured in Chiang Mai, Thailand, in 2010, which depicts the gentle grace of elephants in their natural habitat. Through his lens, McCurry captures the majestic beauty and inherent dignity of these animals, inviting viewers to connect with the natural world on a profound level. In his pursuit of diverse subject matters, McCurry demonstrates his versatility as a photographer and his unwavering commitment to capturing the essence of life in all its forms.

«My life is shaped by the urgent need to wander and observe, and my camera is my passport.».
Steve McCurry, “Untitled,” 2010. ©Steve McCurry

Susan Meiselas
Susan Meiselas stands as a prominent figure in the realm of photojournalism, renowned for her fearless documentation of conflicts and human rights issues around the world. From her iconic coverage of the Nicaraguan Revolution to her poignant exploration of Kurdish identity, Meiselas has consistently demonstrated a commitment to bearing witness to the complexities of the human condition. However, her photographic journey extends far beyond the realm of war and conflict. One notable departure from this focus is her work documenting carnival strippers in New England. In this series, Meiselas shifts her lens towards the vibrant subculture of carnival performers, capturing intimate moments backstage and onstage. Through her photographs, she offers a nuanced portrayal of the performers' lives, exploring themes of identity, performance, and gender. In her exploration of diverse subject matters, Susan Meiselas showcases the breadth of her artistic vision and the depth of her engagement with the world around her.

«The subject has to want me to be there for me to feel that I can be there».
Susan Meiselas, “Competing for clients,” Tunbridge, Vermont, 1975. ©Susan Meiselas.

In conclusion, the artistic evolution of war photographers transcends the battlefield, offering a glimpse into the multifaceted nature of their craft. While they are celebrated for their unyielding commitment to documenting conflict and crisis, their work extends far beyond the horrors of war. From Robert Capa's intimate portraits of artists to Don McCullin's serene landscapes, from Margaret Bourke-White's architectural marvels to Steve McCurry's majestic wildlife, and from Susan Meiselas' exploration of carnival culture to the complexities of identity and performance, these photographers demonstrate the depth and diversity of their artistic vision. Through their lenses, they invite us to explore the beauty, resilience, and humanity that exist amidst the chaos of the world, reminding us of the transformative power of photography to transcend borders, connect cultures, and illuminate the shared human experience. Beyond the battlefield, their photographs serve as windows into worlds unseen, offering moments of reflection, introspection, and inspiration for generations to come.

At our current exhibition “SEE YOU IN MY DREAMS!,”acclaimed war photographer Stanley Greene did exactly this, turning his talent, perfected with years of experience in conflicts and around battlefields, to a more intimate and unique setting. Come to the Galerie de Buci to be amazed at the multifaceted artistic talent of this legend of photojournalism.

© © All Rights Reserved Galerie de Buci
Made on