Harry Gruyaert's Photos Take Us On a Colorful Journey from Vegas to the USSR - Feature Shoot

  Las Vegas downtown motel, Las Vegas, Nevada, United States, 1982. © Harry Gruyaert Magnum Photos Moscow, Russia, 1989. © Harry Gruyaert Magnum Photos “Higher emotions cannot be communicated in…

The decision to invite Belgian photographer Harry Gruyaert (b. 1941) to join Magnum Photos in 1982 caused dissent among the ranks. At that time Gruyaert had been working in color for two decades, but the powers that be “didn’t see color,” so to speak. Photography was still a fledgling medium in the art world, and those who were desperate to join the ranks revealed a powerful insecurity that fed simple-minded biases and false hierarchies designed to exclude innovative thinkers who worked outside the narrow frame of the status quo.

Harry Gruyaert: East / West – The Eye of Photography

At a time when the world was politically divided into East and West, Magnum photographer Harry Gruyaert’s quest for light and sensuality led him to capture the colours of two very different worlds: the vibrant glitziness of Las Vegas and Los Angeles in 1981 and the austere restraint of Moscow in 1989, just before the fall of the Soviet Union. Harry Gruyaert: East / West, published by Thames & Hudson, is a remarkable journey of contrasts and contradictions now published in two stripped volumes. The book reproduces nearly a hundred photographs of these two series, of which seventy are new images.

The Photographer Who Brought Color to Magnum

It’s hard to read anything about Harry Gruyaert without at least one mention of the word color. The Belgian’s somewhat radical embrace of the medium in...

It’s hard to read anything about Harry Gruyaert without at least one mention of the word color. The Belgian’s somewhat radical embrace of the medium in the 1970s has certainly helped define his career thus far: Black-and-white photos were the last things on viewers’ minds while walking through Gruyaert’s recently closed show at the Maison Européenne de la Photographie in Paris or while turning the pages of a retrospective of his work around the world, Harry Gruyaert.

Born to Make Photos

Harry Gruyaert’s father made film. He makes pictures. His credo: “I just physically jump into a situation and react to it, and see how things are working out.”

Harry Gruyaert, the Belgian photographer and member of Magnum, has been taking pictures for a long time. Long enough to have been friends — and colleagues — with Henri Cartier-Bresson, with whom he shared a philosophy of photography.