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George Rodger: Adventurer and Photographer

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His future career as a professional photographer soon begins to take shape, however, when he is hired first by the BBC’s The Listener magazine and subsequently by the Black Star Agency in 1938. Thanks to his photographs taken during the “Blitz” – the German Luftwaffe’s offensive against London –, he attracts the attention of LIFE magazine and is hired as a war correspondent. It is the beginning of his “war odyssey.” From 1940 onward, Rodger covers the movements of the Free French Forces (FFL) in the Libyan Desert, in Chad, and in Eritrea. From there, he works his way into Italian-occupied Abyssinia (Ethiopia), Syria, and Libya. Another highly dangerous assignment takes him to Burma. He meets Robert Capa in 1943 while on assignment in Italy. The two correspondents become close friends. Rodger photographs the liberation of France, Belgium, and Holland by the Allies. He is one of the first photographers to document the liberation of Bergen-Belsen concentration camp in April 1945. Deeply disturbed by this traumatic experience, Rodger decides never to work as a war correspondent again. In 1947 he co-founds the MAGNUM agency together with Robert Capa, Henri Cartier-Bresson, David Seymour, and William Vandivert in order to secure the copyrights to their own work. It is initially foreseen that each of the founding members will cover a continent, and Rodger is assigned to Africa. On his first extended trip across Africa he covers 34,000 kilometers, traveling from Cape Town to Cairo. The pictures he took of the rites and way of life of the Nuba are exceptional due to the unusual intimacy and proximity they convey. George Rodger’s first retrospective in Germany presents a selection of his best photographs: more than 100 works taken between 1940 and 1949, the key years of his life.

Catalog

George Rodger. Unterwegs 1940-1949 / George Rodger. On the Road 1940–1949
Tagebuchaufzeichnungen eines Fotografen und Abenteurers / From the Diaries of a Photographer and Adventurer
Edited by Andrea Holzherr and Isabel Siben
ISBN 978-3-7757-2384-8 / ISBN 978-3-7757-2413-5

Curator

Isabel Siben