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Sebastião Salgado

Prince of Asturias Award for the Arts 1998

Sebastião Salgado (Aymorés, Minas Gerais, Brazil, 1944) studied Economics, but has been a photographer since the age of 29. After working for the photo agencies Sygma and Gamma, he worked for Magnum Photos between 1979 and 1994, when he and Lelia Wanick Salgado created Amazonas Images, an agency that handles his work exclusively.

In 1986, he published the book “Other Americas”, which reflects several years of his work in Latin America and which also formed the basis for an exhibition. The photographs he took over a period of seven years in the areas of famine and drought in the African region of Sahel in cooperation with the French relief organisation Doctors without Borders resulted in several exhibitions and two books. As of 1986, and over a period of 6 years, Salgado devoted himself to an extensive project, that of recording through his camera images of people from all over the world at work. The result, “Workers”, was published as a book  in 1993. Between 1994 and 1999, Salgado worked on a photographic investigation project on the theme of population movements around the world. With this series of photo essays, he depicted the situation of millions of displaced people, in flight from wars, revolutions or political oppression, or of those fleeing the poverty of rural regions to head for the suburban slums of large cities.  This work was presented to the public in the books “Migrations” and “Portraits”.  In 2004, he started up the Genesis project, a series of landscapes and portraits dotted around the planet with the aim of documenting the unspoilt aspects of nature and humanity.

A major anthological exhibition of his work was held in Madrid in June 2007, within the framework of PHotoEspaña. The exhibition won the People’s Choice Award

Honorary Member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and Commander of the Order of Rio Bravo, he holds honorary doctorates from the University of Evora (Portugal), the New School University (New York), the Art Institute of Boston and the University of Nottingham (UK). He has been awarded numerous distinctions, including the Eugene Smith Award for Humanitarian Photography (USA, 1962), the Oskar Barnack Prize (Germany, 1985 and 1992), the King of Spain Prize for Journalism (Spain, 1998), the Erna and Victor Hasselblad Award (Sweden, 1989), the French Ministry of Culture National Grand Prix (France, 1994), the Royal Photographic Society’s Gold Medal (GB), the Muriqui Prize from the Mata Atlantica Biosphere Reserve National Council (Brazil, 2000), the Photographic Society of Japan’s International Prize (Tokyo, 2003) and the Lifetime Achievement Award from the North American Nature Photography Association (USA, 2010). He was named UNICEF Special Representative in 2001.

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