Beetles and Huxley gallery in London is to open a retrospective exhibition of the American photojournalist Steve McCurry. The exhibition will feature many of McCurry's best known images – including Afghan Girl, his 1984 portrait of the refugee Sharbat Gula. When Afghan Girl appeared on the cover of National Geographic in 1985, it quickly became an archetypical western image of Third World suffering.
McCurry’s career in photography began when he started taking pictures for the Penn State student newspaper while a student at the university. After a few years in local journalism, he travelled to India and quickly found himself besotted: Asia, from the Gulf to Tibet, became his muse.
In 1979, at the onset of the Soviet-Afghan War, McCurry snuck into Afghanistan in native garb. Travelling with a group of mujahideen guerilla fighters, he concealed his film by sewing it into his garments. The resultant photographs, published in The New York Times and Time, established McCurry as one of America’s pre-eminent journalists and gave vivid documentation to the war’s human cost.
In the decades since, McCurry has continued reporting from warzones, focusing on those whose lives have been upended by conflict. His images of New York after 9/11 are among the most vivid accounts of the calamity.
In spite of the journalistic nature of much of his work, McCurry remains adamant that each photograph is a singular piece. In his words, “What is important to my work is the individual picture. I photograph stories on assignment, and of course they have to be put together coherently. But what matters most is that each picture stands on its own, with its own place and feeling."