Salgado, Sebastião (1944–)

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Salgado, Sebastião (1944–)

Sebastião Salgado (b. 8 February 1944), Brazilian photographer. Born in Minas Gerais, Salgado was the only son among eight children of the owners of a large cattle farm. In 1963, he began studying law, and later switched to economics. Around this time, he married the architect Lélia Deluiz Wanick; they had two children. In 1968, Salgado obtained two master's degrees in economics: one from São Paulo University, and one from Vanderbilt University; in 1971, he received a doctorate in agricultural economy from the Sorbonne. Immediately thereafter he went to work in Africa for the London-based International Coffee Organization. In 1973, Salgado changed careers once again and became a freelance photojournalist documenting the drought in the Sahel region of Africa for the World Council of Churches. The following year he joined the Paris-based Sygma agency and covered the coup in Portugal and the revolutions in its colonies of Mozambique and Angola. In 1975, he switched to the Gamma agency, covering stories in Africa, Europe, and Latin America. He began the work on peasants that was featured in his 1986 book Other Americas started around this time. Three years later, Salgado joined Magnum, a cooperative agency founded in 1947 by Henri Cartier-Bresson, Robert Capa, and others. In 1982 he received the W. Eugene Smith grant in humanistic photography and an award from the French Ministry of Culture to continue his work in Latin America. Working with a French humanitarian aid group, Médecins sans Frontières, he returned to the Sahel to photograph the calamitous effects of famine in 1984. After the publication of his book Sahel: L'homme en détresse, Salgado was internationally recognized as a leading photojournalist. In 1991, he and his wife, Lélia Deluiz Wanick, began to work to save a small portion of the Atlantic forest in Brazil. In 1998, this land officially became a nature preserve, as well as home to an environmental educational center known as Instituto Terra. His most ambitious project, on workers and the end of manual labor, was completed in 1992 and published as Workers: An Archeology of the Industrial Age (1993). In 1993 the Tokyo National Museum of Modern Art mounted a retrospective of Salgado's work, titled "In Human Effort." In 1994, he founded his own press agency, Amazonas Images, to represent him and his work. In 1997, his Terra: Struggles of the Landless was published to wide critical acclaim. His compilation of photographs taken of displaced people in thirty-five countries throughout the 1990s was published in 2000 in a work titled Migrations: Humanity in Transition. He currently lives in Paris. Salgado's work has gone beyond the printed page and onto the walls of galleries and museums. Controversy has arisen over the alleged "beautification of tragedy" in his work, and in an attempt to understand it, critics have variously labeled it "lyric documents," "mannerist documents," or "documentary photography."

See alsoPhotography: 1900–1990 .


Collections of Salgado's photographs also include An Uncertain Grace, with essays by Eduardo Galeano and Fred Ritchin (1990). Articles on Salgado include Liba Taylor, "Sebastião Salgado," in British Journal of Photography, 12 November 1987; Ingrid Sischy, "Good Intentions," in The New Yorker, 9 September 1991; and Henry Allen, "Of Beatitudes and Burdens," in The Washington Post, 19 January 1992.

Costa, Flavia. "Beautiful Misery: The Travels of Sebastião Salgado—An Interview with Julio Ramos." Journal of Latin American Cultural Studies 2 (August 2003): 215-227.

Harris, Mark Edward. Faces of the Twentieth Century: Master Photographers and Their Work. New York: Abbeville Press, 1998.

Mraz, John. "Sebastião Salgado's Latin America." Estudios Interdisciplinarios de América Latina y el Caribe 9 (January-June 1998): 27-37.

                                  Fernando Castro