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Paul Graham wins 2012 Hasselblad award

Self-taught photographer becomes first British winner of international prize for recognition of major achievements, writes in The Guardian.

Paul Graham has been named as the winner of the 2012 Hasselblad award, which is presented annually to “a photographer recognised for major achievements”. It is the first time a British photographer has won the prestigious international prize. Previous recipients include Robert Adams (2009), Nan Goldin (2007) and William Eggleston (1998).

Graham, who had a major retrospective at the Whitechapel Gallery in London last year, is a self-taught photographer. He was born in Buckinghamshire and discovered photography through the books of great American pioneers like Robert Frank, Walker Evans and Paul Strand. He has lived in New York since the early 1990s. Graham first garnered critical acclaim with his early documentary work, including A1 – The Great North Road (1983) , a series shot in colour along the British motorway, and Beyond Caring (1985), which was shot in unemployment offices. Back then, Graham was a pioneer of colour in Britain, his work influencing subsequent generations of young photographers.”………MORE

Pittsburgh, 2004 (Lawnmower Man)From the series ‘A Shimmer of Possibilities’. Copyright of the artist, courtesy of Anthony Reynolds Gallery, London.The Foundation’s citation regarding the decision to award the 2012 prize to Paul Graham is as follows:

“Paul Graham is one of the most brilliant photographers of his generation. During the course of his nearly 40-year career, he has presented an extremely focused body of work, at once perfectly coherent and never monotonous. In images both sensitive and subtly political, he makes tangible the insignificant traces of the spirit of the times we do not normally see. With his keen awareness of the photographic medium, he has constantly developed innovative forms of working with all aspects of photography. This makes him a profound force for renewal of the deep photographic tradition of engagement with the world.”

More of Graham’s pictures can be seen here

Paul Graham: Photographs 1981-2006

This long article discussing the merits of Paul Graham’s photographs is rather full of the ideas that many people consider art double speak, it poses the question what is photography within the context of contemporary art, not quite in those words but that is my assessment of the long discourse. This is certainly not photography for everyone, many of the images seem banal and without merit, that could have been taken by a small child randomly pressing the shutter release on a camera. I don’t doubt that much the same was said of Van Gogh,  Monet, Picasso, Pollock etc, in other words artistic innovators. I am not saying at all that I understand or even like Graham’s pictures but I think anyone interested in photography; that is the subject of photography rather than just their pictures or the decorative images of others, should at least try to understand the work of those seemingly operating at the margins of the medium. I suggest you look at the pictures, read the article and work out if, for you, it has any value, how will you know if you do not look. here it is