B. Brazil, 1944
Sebastião Salgado began photographing in the early 1970s. In 1979 he joined Magnum, the prestigious agency. Leaving Magnum in 1994, Salgado set up the photo agency, Amazonas Images, in partnership with his wife, Lélia Wanick, to promote his photography. In 1999 the couple also founded the Instituto Terra, a non-profit organisation established to conserve the Atlantic rainforest that surrounded his family home.
In order to understand the communities and habitats he photographs, Salgado undertakes prolonged projects, or “photo-essays”, that present huge, thrilling dramas of clashing geographical, social and cultural structures. His earlier projects – Migrations and Workers – centre on the trials of humanity across the globe, taking seven and six years respectively. Some of Salgado’s most famous images were taken at the Serra Pelada gold mine in Brazil where he immortalised scenes of medieval horror as tens of thousands of men worked in appalling conditions. Salgado’s most recent photo-essay, Genesis, marked a rekindling of faith in the partnership of humanity and nature. Completed in 2013, the eight-year project is awesome in the truest sense of the word. Genesis is about returning to origins – finding nature in its pure, pristine state.
He has published a number of books including Other Americas (1986), Sahel, lʼhomme en détresse (1986), Sahel: el fin del camino (1988), An Uncertain Grace (1990), Workers (1993), Terra (1997), Migrations and Portraits (2000), and Africa (2007). Exhibitions of Salgado’s work have been presented in institutions throughout the world, including International Center of Photography, New York, Natural History Museum, London; Somerset House, London; Tokyo Metropolitan Museum of Photography; Barbican Gallery, London; Deutsches Historisches Museum, Berlin; and George Eastman House, Rochester. His work is held in many museum collections including the Centre Pompidou, Paris; Art Institute of Chicago; Museum of Modern Art, New York; The J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles; San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; and the National Museum of Modern Art, Tokyo, among others
A feature-length documentary about the artist, The Salt of the Earth, directed by Wim Wenders and Juliano Ribeiro Salgado, won the Special Jury Prize at Cannes in May 2014. Salgado has been awarded numerous major photographic prizes in recognition of his accomplishments. He has twice been awarded photographer of the year by the International Center of Photography. Salgado is a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador, and an honorary member of the Academy of Arts and Sciences in the United States.
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