As Don McCullin continues to work at home and abroad through his eighties, still undaunted by border crossings, passport controls, and the manoeuvring of forces through conflict zones, you might be correct in regarding him as the greatest photographer of war since the Vietnam years — a period when he himself was working at his greatest intensity. That assessment of the man would be incomplete. In his later years, far from the rumble of war, he has become the great English landscapist. Under brooding English skies he has found his home and asserted himself in a particular tradition that stretches back to Biblical engravings of divine light cast in the fashion of Gustav Doré, cloud formations in the concentrated sky photographs of Alfred Stieglitz or the rolling storms in the small Constable oils on paper. McCullin’s landscape is not some Samuel Palmer idyll. His pictures are fierce and black, the fields often clotted and rutted — just what you might expect from a man pacing the Somerset Levels with a battlefield in his mind. This book is the definitive publication of his landscapes and the culmination of a series of McCullin volumes that Cape have published over many years.
Divided into five sections, The Landscape opens with some of his earliest pictures — a village at dusk and the smoke-filled views of the industrial North, stretching out to the very edges of insular Britain, to Land’s End and the waters beyond. The second section is derived from the Somerset fields surrounding his home where he is struck by the emptiness of what was once a flourishing agrarian world beneath the mound of Glastonbury. Now the sheep and cattle are few and the mud is deep. The third section reflects McCullin the traveller, drawn like his nineteenth-century predecessors to the banks of the Nile and great Indian rivers. His recent excursions to Palmyra only reinforce the fragility of the ruins of the Ancient World.
The fourth section is drawn from the stream that runs through his own land at the very centre of his country retreat. Finally, we follow him heading north through the snows and across Hadrian’s Wall into the magnificence of Rannoch Moor and Glencoe. The ghosts of battle haunt the last picture — a view of a road winding over the plains of the Somme.
- Jonathan Cape
- Published 4th October 2018
- 240 Pages
- 343mm x 296mm x mm