Gilles Peress (born 1946) is a photographer and a member of Magnum Photos.
Peress began working with photography in 1970. One of his first projects examined immigration in Europe, and he has since documented events in Northern Ireland, Lebanon, Palestine, Iran, the Balkans, Rwanda, the U.S., Afghanistan and Iraq. His ongoing project, Hate Thy Brother, is a cycle of documentary narratives that looks at intolerance and the re-emergence of nationalism throughout the world and its consequences.
Peress’ books include Telex Iran; The Silence: Rwanda; Farewell to Bosnia; The Graves: Srebrenica and Vukovar; A Village Destroyed; and Haines. Portfolios of his work have appeared in the New York Times Magazine, The Sunday Times Magazine, Du magazine, Life, Stern, Geo, Paris-Match, Parkett, Aperture and The New Yorker.
Peress’ work has been exhibited and is collected by institutions including: the Museum of Modern Art, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Whitney Museum of American Art, PS1, all in New York; the Art Institute of Chicago; the Corcoran Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C; the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; the Getty Museum in Los Angeles; the Walker Art Center and the Minneapolis Institute of Arts; the V&A in London; the Musée d'Art Moderne, the Picasso Museum, Parc de la Villette and Centre Georges Pompidou in Paris; the Museum Folkwang, Essen; the Sprengel Museum in Hannover, and others.
Awards and fellowships Peress has received include: The Guggenheim Fellowship, National Endowment for the Arts grants, Pollock-Krasner and New York State Council of the Arts fellowships, the W. Eugene Smith Grant for Humanistic Photography and the International Center of Photography Infinity Award.
Peress is Professor of Human Rights and Photography at Bard College in NY and is Senior Research Fellow at the Human Rights Center at UC Berkeley. Peress joined Magnum Photos in 1971 and served three times as vice president and twice as president of the co-operative. He and his wife, Alison Cornyn, live in Brooklyn with their three children.
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Peress grew up in Paris with his mother, an orthodox Christian from the Middle East, and his father, who was of Jewish and Georgian descent. Peress studied political science and philosophy in Paris. He studied at the Institute d'Etudes Politiques from 1966 to 1968 and then at the University of Vincennes until 1971. Peress began working as a photographer in 1970, embarking on an intimate portrayal of life in a French village, Decazeville, as it emerged from the ashes of a debilitating labor dispute. In 1973 he photographed Turkish immigrant workers in West Germany and documented the European policy to import cheap labor from the third world. "Peress has worked as a journalist to help finance those projects that constitute his personal search—a search to understand his own history." He then joined Magnum Photos.
Peress soon traveled to Northern Ireland to begin an ongoing 20-year project about the Irish civil rights struggle. One of his most famous pictures from this period captures a young man named Patrick Doherty moments before he was killed whilst crawling to safety in the forecourt of the Rossville flats during Bloody Sunday.
Power in the Blood, a book that synthesizes his years of work in Northern Ireland, is the third part of his ongoing project called Hate Thy Brother, a cycle of documentary stories that describe intolerance and the re-emergence of nationalism in the postwar years. Farewell to Bosnia was the first part of this cycle, and The Silence, a book about the genocide in Rwanda, was the second.
In 1979 Peress traveled to Iran in the midst of the Revolution. His highly regarded book, Telex Iran: In the Name of Revolution, is about the fragile relationship between American and Iranian cultures during the hostage crisis. Peress has also completed other major projects, including a photographic study of the lives of Turkish immigrant workers in Germany, and a recent examination of the contemporary legacy of the Latin American liberator Simon Bolivar.
Peress participated in the photography collective This Place, organized by photographer Frédéric Brenner. For his project, Peress focused on the village of Silwan, where there are frequent violent clashes between Palestinians and Jewish settlers, and used large format cameras to document his experience.
- 1977, Apeiron: Artist in Residence
- 1979, National Endowment for the Arts
- 1981, American Institute of Graphic Arts Award
- 1981, Art Director's Club Award
- 1981, Overseas Press Club Award
- 1981, Prix du Premier Livre/Foundation Kodak Pathe
- 1981, Prix de la Critique Couleur
- 1983, Imogen Cunningham Award
- 1983, Fondation Nationale pour la Photographie
- 1984, W. Eugene Smith Award for Humanistic Photography
- 1984, National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship
- 1986, Gahan Fellowship at Harvard University
- 1989, Art Director's Club Award
- 1989, Ernst Haas Award
- 1990, Art Matters Grant
- 1992, National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship
- 1992/93, Guggenheim Foundation Fellowship
- 1993, La Fondation de France Fellowship
- 1994, International Center of Photography Infinity Award
- 1995, Camera Works, Inc. Artist Grant
- 1995, Erich Solomon Prize
- 1996, International Center of Photography Infinity Award
- 1997, Open Society Institute’s Individual Project Fellowship: Hate Thy Brother
- 1997, Art Director’s Club Award for NY Times Web site design: Bosnia: Uncertain Paths to Peace
- 1999, Alfred Eisenstaedt Awards: Eyewitness Photo and Journalistic Impact
- 2000, Alfred Eisenstaedt Awards: Journalistic Impact – Photo Essay, “Exile and Return”, The New Yorker
- 2000, Overseas Press Club: 1999 Olivier Rebbot Award, “Exile and Return”, The New Yorker
- 2000, Mosaique Programme Grant, “Difference/Indifference” Centre National de L’Audiovisuel, Luxembourg
- 2002, Brendan Gill Prize: Here is New York: a democracy of photographs exhibition
- 2002, Cornell Capa Award (ICP Infinity Awards): Here is New York: a democracy of photographs
- 2002, New York State Council on the Arts, Individual Artists Project Grant
- 2002, Pollock-Krasner Foundation Grant
- Telex Persan, with Gholam Hassan Saedi. France: Contrejour, 1984; Telex Iran, USA: Aperture, 1984, ISBN 978-0-89381-118-1; Switzerland: Scalo, 1997, ISBN 978-3-931141-36-3
- Eye for an Eye, USA: Aperture, 1988.
- Farewell to Bosnia, Switzerland: Scalo, USA: Distributed Art Publications, 1994. ISBN 978-1-881616-22-1
- The Silence. Rwanda, Switzerland/USA/Germany: Scalo, 1995. ISBN 978-1-881616-38-2
- The Graves: Srebrenica and Vukovar, with Eric Stover. Switzerland/USA/Germany Scalo, 1998. ISBN 978-3-931141-76-9
- "Here is New York: A Democracy of Photographs", Scalo, 2002, 864 pages. Photography collective. Photo editing, sequencing, and design by Gilles Peress. ISBN 3-908-247-66-7
- "A Village Destroyed", UC Press, 2002, 251 pages. Photographs by Gilles Peress, with text by Eric Stover and Fred Abrahams. ISBN 0-520-23303-4
- "Haines, Photo Poche" - Actes Sud, 2004, 94 black & white photographs. Photographs and text by Gilles Peress. ISBN 2-7427-5355-9
- "The Rockaways" - Concord Free Press, 2013, 94 color photographs. Photographs by Gilles Peress, edited with an introduction by Hamilton Fish. ISBN 978-0-9847078-8-1
- 1994, Farewell to Bosnia (video essay)
- 1992, A Peruvian Equation (part of the series “The Magnum Eye”, made for TV Tokyo)
- 1992, Street Musicians (filmed in NY for M. & Co. Agency, for Benetton)
- Art Institute of Chicago, Illinois
- Arts Council of Great Britain, London, UK
- Bibliotheque Nationale, Paris, France
- First Bank of Minnesota
- Fogg Museum, Cambridge, Massachusetts
- Fondation Leitz, Rueil-Malmaison, France
- Fondation Nationale pour la Photographie, Paris, France
- Fotomuseum Winterthur, Zurich, Switzerland
- Galerie du Château d'Eau, Toulouse, France
- International Museum of Photography, Rochester, NY
- Getty Museum, Los Angeles, CA
- International Center of Photography, New York, NY
- Kiyosato Museum of Photographic Arts, Kiyosato, Japan
- Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York
- Minneapolis Institute of Art, Minnesota
- Musée d'Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris, Paris, France
- Musée de l'Élysée, Lausanne, Switzerland
- Museum of the Moving Image, New York, France
- Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, Texas
- Museum of Modern Art, New York, NY
- New York Historical Society New York, NY
- Philadelphia Museum of Art, Philadelphia, PA
- San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. San Francisco, CA
- The Archive of Modern Conflict, London, England
- The Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, NY
- Victoria and Albert Museum, London, England
- Bosnia: Uncertain Paths To Peace. Interactive multimedia photojournalism project for the New York Times, on-Line, 1996. concept and design Gilles Peress with Fred Ritchin At http://www.nytimes.com/specials/bosnia/
- Farewell To Bosnia. with Picture Projects: Text and photographs by Gilles Peress, 1995. At http://www.pictureprojects.com/bosnia.html
- Crimes of War. Concept and Design Gilles Peress with html/editorial by Pixelpress. At http://www.crimesofwar.org/
- Human Rights Center at UC Berkeley. Concept and Design Gilles Peress with html by Pixelpress. At http: http://www.hrcberkeley.org/
- DNA and Human Rights. Concept and Design Gilles Peress with html/editorial by Pixelpress. At http://www.hrcberkeley.org/dna/
- A Village Destroyed. Concept and Design Gilles Peress. At http://www.hrcberkeley.org/avillagedestroyed/avdhome.html
- Crimes of War Project, Co-founder and member of the Board of Directors, 1998 to 2008
- Crimes of War: What the Public Should Know, WW Norton, 1999, Edited by Roy Gutman and David Rieff, Concept and Design Concept by Gilles Peress
- “Here is New York: A Democracy of Photographs” Exhibition Co-founder, 2001, Concept Gilles Peress
- Access To Life, The Global Fund to fight AIDS with Magnum Photos
- Postcards From America (Florida) with Magnum Photos
- Linfield, Susie. The Cruel Radiance: Photography and Political Violence. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 2010.
- Gilles Peress Biography, NYTimes.com
- Interview with Gilles Peress
- Magnum Photos Biography