Harry Gruyaert, Belgique, Boom, 1988 © Harry Gruyaert / Magnum Photos
Born in 1941 in Antwerp into a highly Catholic family, Harry Gruyaert studied film and photography in Brussels from 1959 to 1962. Then he moved to Paris where he began to photograph for the fashion industry while working as a director of photography for Flemish television. His first trip to the United States in 1968 and his encounter with Pop Art artists such as Roy Lichtenstein and Robert Rauschenberg marked a major breakthrough in his practice. lnvestigating the creative potential of " colour substance " and the aesthetics of banality, he was one of the first Europeans to devote himself entirely to colour photography, which at the time was devoted to illustration or advertising purposes and often considered "vulgar". ln the 1970s and 1980s, he travelled to the United States, Morocco, lndia, Egypt, Japan and Russia. Despite an approach that was essentially pictorial and far from photojournalism, he joined Magnum Photos in 1981 and became a member in 1986. At that time he was one of the few photographers in the cooperative to work exclusively in colour. Editions Delpire published in 2000 his book, Made in Belgium, introducing his work about Belgium, with exclusive poems by Hugo Claus. ln the 2000s, as the production of Kodachrome film came to an end, he decided to give up analog photography and cibachrome for digital photography and inkjet prints.
His TV Shots series, made in London in 1972 by altering TV set images, entered the collections of the Centre Pompidou in 2016. Several solo shows took place in France and abroad, most notably at the Rencontres d'Arles in 2003 and at FOMU in Antwerp in 2018. Numerous books have been dedicated to his work, among them Éditions Textuel (Harry Gruyaert, 2015; Rivages, 2018), Atelier EXB (Roots, 2012, lndia, 2020, Between Worlds, 2022) and Actes Sud (Harry Gruyaert, Photo Poche, 2022).