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Anton Corbijn

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Anton Corbijn
Corbijn in 2012
Anton Johannes Gerrit Corbijn van Willenswaard

(1955-05-20) 20 May 1955 (age 69)
Strijen, Netherlands
  • Photographer
  • music video director
  • film director
Years active1975–present

Anton Johannes Gerrit Corbijn van Willenswaard (Dutch pronunciation: [ˈɑntɔɲoːˈɦɑnəs ˈxɛrɪt kɔrˈbɛiɱ vɑɱ ˌʋɪlənsˈʋaːrt]; born 20 May 1955) is a Dutch photographer, film director, and music video director. He is the creative director behind the visual output of Depeche Mode and U2,[1][2] having handled the principal promotion and sleeve photography for both bands over three decades. His music videos include Depeche Mode's "Enjoy the Silence" (1990), U2's "One" (version 1) (1991), Bryan Adams' "Do I Have to Say the Words?", Nirvana's "Heart-Shaped Box" (1993), and Coldplay's "Talk" (2005). He directed the films "Viva la Vida" (2008); the Ian Curtis biographical film Control (2007),[3] The American (2010); A Most Wanted Man (2014), based on John le Carré's 2008 novel of the same name; and Life (2015), after the friendship between Life magazine photographer Dennis Stock and James Dean.

Early life and family


Anton Johannes Gerrit Corbijn van Willenswaard was born on 20 May 1955 in Strijen in the Netherlands, where his father had been appointed as parson to the Dutch Reformed Church the previous year.[4] His father, Anton Corbijn van Willenswaard (1917–2007),[5] took up the same position in Hoogland (1966) and Groningen (1972),[6] moving his wife and four children with him.[7] His mother, Marietje Groeneboer (1925–2011), was a nurse and was raised in a parson's family. Photographer and director Maarten Corbijn (born 1960)[8] is a younger brother.[9] Grandfather Anton Johannes (Corbijn) van Willenswaard (1886–1959)[10][11] was an art teacher at Christian schools in Hilversum[12] and an active member in the local Dutch Reformed Church in Hilversum.[13][14]



Corbijn began his career as a music photographer when he saw the Dutch musician Herman Brood playing in a café in Groningen around 1975. He took a lot of photographs of the band Herman Brood & His Wild Romance and these led to a rise in fame for Brood and in exposure for Corbijn.[15]

Corbijn's official portrait of Beatrix of the Netherlands in 2008

From the late 1970s the London-based New Musical Express (NME), a weekly music paper, featured his work on a regular basis and would often have a photograph by him on the front page. One such occasion was a portrait of David Bowie wearing a loincloth backstage in New York when starring in The Elephant Man. In the early years of London-based The Face, a glossy monthly post-punk life style / music magazine, Corbijn was a regular contributor. He made his name photographing in black-and-white but in May 1989 he began taking pictures in colour using filters. His first venture in this medium was for Siouxsie Sioux.[16] Between 1998 and 2000, in collaboration with the painter Marlene Dumas, he worked on a project called "Stripping Girls", which took the strip clubs and peep shows of Amsterdam as their subject;[17] while Corbijn later exhibited photographs, Dumas took Polaroids which she then used as sources for her paintings.

Corbijn has photographed Jimmy Page and Robert Plant (formerly of Led Zeppelin), Ai Weiwei, Bob Dylan, Joy Division, Tom Waits, Bruce Springsteen, Prāta Vētra, Peter Hammill, Miles Davis, Kate Bush, Björk, Captain Beefheart, Kim Wilde, Marc Almond, Robert De Niro, Stephen Hawking, Elvis Costello, Siouxsie and the Banshees, Morrissey, Peter Murphy, Simple Minds, Clint Eastwood, The Cramps, Roxette, Herbert Grönemeyer, Annie Lennox, and Eurythmics, amongst others. Perhaps his most famous and longest standing associations are with Depeche Mode and U2. Corbijn's work relationship with Depeche Mode began with the filming of a music video for their 1986 single "A Question of Time". Corbijn says that he soon "started to realise that [his] visuals and their music went really well together. Then [he] did some live photos, and it eventually turned into designing the whole live set. That's what [he's] been doing for them since 1993." Corbijn has directed over 20 of the band's music videos, the most recent of his works being 2023's "My Favourite Stranger". He has also designed most of the covers for Depeche Mode's albums and singles from 1990's Violator album and onwards. Corbijn's work with U2 includes taking pictures of the band on their first US tour, taking pictures for their albums The Joshua Tree and Achtung Baby,[18] and directing a number of accompanying videos.

Other album covers featuring work by Corbijn include those for Springsteen, Nick Cave, Siouxsie's second band The Creatures, Bryan Adams, Metallica, Therapy?, The Rolling Stones, Bon Jovi, The Killers, Simple Minds, R.E.M., The Bee Gees, Saybia, Clannad and Moke.

Film directing

Philip Seymour Hoffman, Anton Corbijn, and Grigoriy Dobrygin at the premiere of A Most Wanted Man at the 2014 Sundance Film Festival

Corbijn began his music video directing career when Palais Schaumburg asked him to direct a video. After seeing the resulting video for "Hockey", the band Propaganda had Corbijn direct "Dr. Mabuse". After that he directed videos for David Sylvian, Echo & the Bunnymen, Golden Earring, Front 242, Depeche Mode, Roxette and U2. His first video in colour was made for U2 in 1984 for their single "Pride (In the Name of Love)". In 2005 Palm Pictures released a DVD collection of Corbijn's music video output as part of the Director's Label series.

In 1994 Corbijn directed a short film about Captain Beefheart/Don Van Vliet for the BBC called Some Yoyo Stuff. He made his feature film debut with Control, a film about the life of Joy Division frontman Ian Curtis. It premiered to rave reviews at the Cannes Film Festival on 17 May 2007.[19][20] The film is based on Deborah Curtis' book Touching from a Distance about her husband and the biography Torn Apart by Lindsay Reade (Tony Wilson's ex-wife) and Mick Middles. Although shown outside the Palme d'Or competition, Control was the big winner of the Director's Fortnight winning the CICAE Art & Essai prize for best film, the "Regards Jeunes" Prize award for best first or second directed feature film and the Europa Cinemas Label prize for best European film in the sidebar. It also received a special mention for the Caméra d'Or prize for best debut feature film.[21] In addition, the film also won the Michael Powell award for best new British feature at the Edinburgh International Film Festival.[22]

In 2010, Corbijn returned as a director with the character-based thriller The American, starring George Clooney.

On 26 October 2011, Corbijn directed a webcast by Coldplay from the Plaza de Toros de Las Ventas in Madrid, Spain.[23]

His film A Most Wanted Man was released in 2014. The John le Carré novel of the same name, which is loosely based on the true War on Terror story of Murat Kurnaz, was set in part in Hamburg, as parts of the film were.[24]

In February 2014, he started filming his next project Life about James Dean and photographer Dennis Stock.[25]

On 23 and 25 July 2018, Corbijn filmed the last two concerts of Depeche Mode's Global Spirit Tour at the Waldbühne in Berlin. Some of this footage, intertwined with the stories of six life-long fans in the audience, became the film Spirits in the Forest, which was released in theaters worldwide on 21 November 2019. In Corbijn's interview with NME he spoke about the origins behind the idea of this film and said that they (him and Depeche Mode) "decided to look at the reason for why Depeche Mode was still growing... they're the biggest cult band in the world. It's unbelievable." He further adds that "it's in the DNA of [Depeche Mode] to have these connection to their fans... there's something unusual about it and the fans go to great lengths", which inspired him to make the film in the style that he did.[26][27][28][29][30][31][32][33][34]



Author William Gibson refers to a fictitious portrait by Corbijn of the character Hollis Henry in his 2007 novel Spook Country.[35] A Corbijn photograph has served as the author's portrait on many of Gibson's books, including Neuromancer.[36]

Corbijn is the subject of Josh Whiteman's 2009 documentary film Shadow Play: The Making of Anton Corbijn.[37]

In May 2011, Corbijn presented Mandela Landscape, an artwork consisting of Corbijn's portrait of Nelson Mandela stitched by Dutch textile artist Berend Strik. Both the original work and 80 signed art prints were sold to fund the international edition of ZAM Magazine, an independent platform of African talent.[clarification needed][38]

On 19 December 2011, Corbijn was announced as being on the jury for the 62nd Berlin International Film Festival, held in February 2012.[39] At this occasion, the Berlinale Special screened the documentary Anton Corbijn Inside Out (directed by Klaartje Quirijns) at the Haus der Berliner Festspiele.[40]



Music videos

Year Song Artist Album
1983 "Hockey" Palais Schaumburg Single
1984 "Beat Box" Art of Noise Who's Afraid of the Art of Noise?
"Dr. Mabuse" Propaganda Single
"Red Guitar" David Sylvian Brilliant Trees
"The Ink in the Well"
"Seven Seas" Echo & the Bunnymen Ocean Rain
"Pride (In the Name of Love)" (third version) U2 The Unforgettable Fire
1985 "Bring on the Dancing Horses" Echo & the Bunnymen Single
1986 "Quiet Eyes" Golden Earring The Hole
"A Question of Time" Depeche Mode Black Celebration
1987 "Bedbugs and Ballyhoo" Echo & the Bunnymen Echo & the Bunnymen
"Lips Like Sugar (first version)"
"The Game"
"Strangelove" Depeche Mode Music for the Masses
"Never Let Me Down Again"
"Behind the Wheel"
"Blueprint" Rainbirds Single
1988 "Welcome to Paradise" Front 242 Front by Front
"My Secret Place" Joni Mitchell with Peter Gabriel Chalk Mark in a Rain Storm
"Atmosphere" Joy Division Single
1989 "Faith and Healing" Ian McCulloch Candleland
"Sea of Time" Rainbirds Call Me Easy, Say I'm Strong, Love Me My Way, It Ain't Wrong
"White City of Light"
"Personal Jesus" Depeche Mode Violator
1990 "Killer Wolf" Danzig Danzig II: Lucifuge
"This Is How It Feels"[41] Inspiral Carpets Life
"Enjoy the Silence" (first version) Depeche Mode Violator
"Policy of Truth"
"World in My Eyes"
1991 "May This Be Your Last Sorrow" Banderas Single
"Marie" Herbert Grönemeyer Luxus
"Two Faces" Rainbirds Two Faces
"Tragedy (For You)" Front 242 Single
1992 "Hail Hail Rock 'n' Roll" Garland Jeffreys Don't Call Me Buckwheat
"Lover Lover Lover" Ian McCulloch Mysterio
"One" (original version) U2 Achtung Baby
"Straight to You" Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds Henry's Dream
"Dirty Black Summer" Danzig Danzig III: How the Gods Kill
"Do I Have to Say the Words?" Bryan Adams Waking Up the Neighbours
1993 "I Feel You" Depeche Mode Songs of Faith and Devotion
"Walking in My Shoes"
"Condemnation" (first version)
"Heart-Shaped Box" Nirvana In Utero
1994 "Delia's Gone" Johnny Cash American Recordings
"Mockingbirds" Grant Lee Buffalo Mighty Joe Moon
"In Your Room" Depeche Mode Songs of Faith and Devotion
"Liar" Rollins Band Weight
"Love & Tears" Naomi Campbell Baby Woman
1995 "Have You Ever Really Loved a Woman?" Bryan Adams Don Juan DeMarco
"My Friends" (first version) Red Hot Chili Peppers One Hot Minute
1996 "Hero of the Day" Metallica Load
"Mama Said"
1997 "Barrel of a Gun" Depeche Mode Ultra
"It's No Good"
"Please" (first version) U2 Pop
1998 "Bleibt Alles Anders" Herbert Grönemeyer Bleibt alles anders
"Goddess on a Hiway" (second version) Mercury Rev Deserter's Songs
1999 "Stars" Roxette Have a Nice Day
"Opus 40" (first version) Mercury Rev Deserter's Songs
2000 "Chemical" (first version) Joseph Arthur Come to Where I'm From
"In the Sun"
2001 "Invalid Litter Dept." At the Drive-In Relationship of Command
"Freelove" (second version) Depeche Mode Exciter
2002 "Mensch" Herbert Grönemeyer Mensch
"Electrical Storm" U2 Single
2003 "Re-Offender" Travis 12 Memories
"Zum Meer" Herbert Grönemeyer Mensch
2005 "All These Things That I've Done" (second version) The Killers Hot Fuss
"Talk" Coldplay X&Y
2006 "Suffer Well" Depeche Mode Playing the Angel
2007 "En händig man" Per Gessle En händig man
2008 "Viva la Vida" (second version) Coldplay Viva la Vida or Death and All His Friends
2013 "Should Be Higher" Depeche Mode Delta Machine
"Reflektor" Arcade Fire Reflektor
2017 "Where's the Revolution" Depeche Mode Spirit
"Cover Me"
2023 "Ghosts Again" Memento Mori
"Wagging Tongue" (Creative Director only)
"My Favourite Stranger"
2024 "Before We Drown"
"People Are Good" (Creative Director only)


Year Title Distributor
1993 Devotional Mute Records (UK), Sire Records (US)
1994 Some Yoyo Stuff BBC
2007 Control Momentum Pictures (UK), The Weinstein Company (US)
2009 Linear Universal Music Group, U2
2010 The American Focus Features
2014 A Most Wanted Man Roadside Attractions[42]
2014 Live in Berlin Columbia Records
2015 Life Cinedigm
2019 Spirits in the Forest Trafalgar Releasing
2023 Squaring the Circle (The Story of Hipgnosis) Dogwoof (UK), Utopia (US)
2024 Switzerland FilmNation


  • Famouz (1989)
  • Strangers (1990)
  • Allegro (1991)
  • Grönemeyer, Photographien von Anton Corbijn (1993)
  • Star Trak (1996)
  • 33 Still Lives (1999)
  • Stripping Girls (2000, with Marlene Dumas)
  • Werk (2000)
  • A. Somebody, Strijen, Holland (2002)
  • Everybody Hurts (2003)
  • U2 & I (2005)
  • In Control (2008). Schirmer/Mosel.
  • Inside The American (2010). Schirmer/Mosel ISBN 9783829604765.[43]
  • Inwards and Onwards. (2011) Schirmer/Mosel ISBN 9783829605588.[44]
  • Waits/Corbijn '77–'11. (2013). Schirmer/Mosel Verlag ISBN 9783829605557.[45][46]
  • Looking at A Most Wanted Man (2014). Mosel Verlag ISBN 9783829606493.[47]
  • The Making of Miss Dior (2015)
  • 1-2-3-4 (2015)
  • Hollands Deep (2015)
  • MOOD/MODE (2020)
  • Depeche Mode by Anton Corbijn (2020, limited edition; 2021)


  1. ^ Pitman, Joanna; "The silent partner" The Times, 14 February 2005. Retrieved 9 July 2009
  2. ^ Mackintosh, Hamish; "Talk Time: Anton Corbijn" The Guardian, 31 March 2005. Retrieved 9 July 2009
  3. ^ Zacharek, Stephanie; "Closer to Joy" Salon, 10 October 2007. Retrieved 9 July 2009
  4. ^ "Het vrije volk : democratisch-socialistisch dagblad » 15 jul 1954 - Art. 174". Het Vrije Volk (in Dutch). 15 July 1954. Retrieved 15 April 2023 – via Delpher.
  5. ^ "Ds. A. Corbijn overleden – Kerknieuws – Kerk & Religie" (in Dutch). Refdag.nl. 12 November 1917. Archived from the original on 17 June 2013. Retrieved 29 April 2013.
  6. ^ "PROTESTANTSE KERK". Nederlands Dagblad (in Dutch). 22 September 2011. Archived from the original on 12 January 2014. Retrieved 29 April 2013.
  7. ^ Corbijn, Maarten (2011). "In memoriam…" (PDF). Lopend Vuur. Retrieved 2 September 2013.[permanent dead link]
  8. ^ Corbijn, Maarten. "Corbino". Corbino.nl. Retrieved 2 September 2013.
  9. ^ "Nieuwsblad van het Noorden » 22 feb 1985 - Art. 430". Nieuwsblad van het Noorden (in Dutch). 22 February 1985. Retrieved 15 April 2023 – via Delpher.
  10. ^ "Abraham Corbijn van Willenswaard | 23258806". Wiewaswie.nl. Retrieved 29 April 2013.
  11. ^ "Stamboom van abraham corbijn van willenswaard – Website: (corbijn)vanwillenswaard ť". Uwstamboomonline.nl. Archived from the original on 12 January 2014. Retrieved 29 April 2013.
  12. ^ "De Gooi- en Eemlander : nieuws- en advertentieblad » 28 jun 1911 - Art. 45". De Gooi- en Eemlander (in Dutch). 28 June 1911. Retrieved 15 April 2023 – via Delpher.
  13. ^ "De Gooi- en Eemlander : nieuws- en advertentieblad » 16 nov 1928 - Art. 1". De Gooi- en Eemlander (in Dutch). 16 November 1928. Retrieved 15 April 2023 – via Delpher.
  14. ^ "De Gooi- en Eemlander : nieuws- en advertentieblad » 23 okt 1937 - Art. 1". De Gooi- en Eemlander (in Dutch). 23 October 1937. Retrieved 15 April 2023 – via Delpher.
  15. ^ "HERMAN BROOD | Anton Corbijn" (in Dutch). Retrieved 28 May 2016.
  16. ^ See the booklet of Siouxsie's album Boomerang by The Creatures (Siouxsie's second band)
  17. ^ Marlene Dumas, Feathered Stola (2000) Christie's Post War and Contemporary Evening Sale, 9 May 2006, New York.
  18. ^ "U2 And Anton Corbijn". Vogue Italia. 12 March 2017. Retrieved 25 April 2022.
  19. ^ Sandhu, Sukhdev; "Film review: Ian Curtis biopic, Control" The Daily Telegraph, 5 October 2007. Retrieved 9 July 2009
  20. ^ Robb, Stephen; "Critics applaud Joy Division film" BBC (News), 17 May 2007. Retrieved 9 July 2009
  21. ^ Crerar, Simon; "Joy Division film wins five awards" The Times, 29 November 2007. Retrieved 9 July 2009
  22. ^ "Ian Curtis biopic scoops top award at Edinburgh". The Guardian. 27 August 2007. Retrieved 14 August 2017.
  23. ^ Coldplay Streaming Live, Anton Corbijn-Directed Performance from Spain on Wednesday Archived 1 August 2013 at the Wayback Machine ABC News. Retrieved 20 December 2011
  24. ^ Roxborough, Scott, "'The American' Helmer Anton Corbijn to Direct John Le Carré Adaptation 'A Most Wanted Man'", The Hollywood Reporter, 19 June 2011 5:33 AM. Retrieved 26 July 2011.
  25. ^ "Robert Pattinson and Dane DeHaan join Anton Corbijn's Life". Screendaily. Retrieved 18 February 2014.
  26. ^ Grow, Kory (19 September 2019). "Depeche Mode Doc 'Spirits in the Forest' to Weave Fans' Stories With Concert Footage". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 14 October 2019.
  27. ^ Amos, Jim (18 November 2019). "Why Depeche Mode's 'SPIRITS In The Forest' Is The New Gold Standard For Concert Films". Forbes. Retrieved 18 November 2019.
  28. ^ Benitez-Eves, Tina (13 November 2019). "'Depeche Mode: SPIRITS in the Forest' Documentary Offers a New Perspective on Fan Life". Billboard. Retrieved 13 November 2019.
  29. ^ Niasseri, Siassan (21 November 2019). "Kritik: Depeche Mode – "Spirits In The Forest": Den Fans ein großes Denkmal" (in German). Rolling Stone. Retrieved 21 November 2019.
  30. ^ Clarke, Steward (9 December 2019). "'Depeche Mode: Spirits in the Forest' Sounds a Box-Office High Note (EXCLUSIVE)". Variety. Retrieved 9 December 2019.
  31. ^ Ehrlich, David (21 November 2019). "'Spirits in the Forest' Review: Anton Corbijn's Depeche Mode Concert Doc Puts the Fans First". IndieWire. Retrieved 21 November 2019.
  32. ^ Atkinson, Jesse (1 November 2019). "Anton Corbijn's New Film is an Ode to The Band That Changed Your Life". Gigwise. Retrieved 1 November 2019.
  33. ^ Thorpe, Vanessa (2 November 2019). "A huge band, with a cool crowd from a ringside seat? Head for the cinema". The Guardian. Retrieved 2 November 2019.
  34. ^ Trendell, Andrew (21 November 2019). "Anton Corbijn on his new Depeche Mode film: They're the biggest cult band in the world". NME. Retrieved 22 July 2020.
  35. ^ Giese, Rachel; "Present tense" Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, 2 October 2007. Retrieved 9 July 2009
  36. ^ Gibson, William (1984). Neuromancer. ISBN 0-441-56959-5.
  37. ^ "Shadow Play: The Making of Anton Corbijn Review". That Shelf. 12 May 2010. Retrieved 8 May 2024.
  38. ^ "Mandela Landscape – ZAM". www.zammagazine.com. Retrieved 28 May 2016.
  39. ^ "Berlinale 2012: International Jury". berlinale.de. 19 December 2011. Retrieved 21 December 2011.
  40. ^ Kiang, Jessica (18 February 2012). "'Anton Corbijn Inside Out' Presents An Impressionist Portrait Of The Artist As A Solitary Man". Indiewire. Retrieved 8 May 2024.
  41. ^ "'After gigs, we'd drop off our drummer to do his paper round': how Inspiral Carpets made This Is How It Feels". TheGuardian.com.
  42. ^ "A Most Wanted Man (2014) – Box Office Mojo".
  43. ^ "Inside The American". GUP Magazine. 12 November 2010.
  44. ^ Matthews, Katherine Oktober (12 October 2011). "Inwards and Onwards". GUP Magazine.
  45. ^ "Waits Corbijn The Book". Waits-corbijn.com. Archived from the original on 15 May 2013. Retrieved 1 August 2013.
  46. ^ "Waits/Corbijn '77–'11". GUP Magazine. 14 July 2013.
  47. ^ Matthews, Katherine Oktober (29 September 2014). "Looking at A Most Wanted Man". GUP Magazine.