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Pellegrin studied architecture at L'Università la Sapienza, in Rome, and after three years he decided to change career directions and left to study photography at Istituto Italiano di Fotografia in Rome, from 1986 to 1987. During these years, he met the Italian photographer Enzo Ragazzini, who became his mentor.
Between 1987 and 1990 he began working on his first photography projects in Italy, concentrating on immigration, the circus and homelessness. He was also working as an assistant for a number of photographers and videographers. In 1991, after completing a well-paid assignment for the Italian state TV channel, he bought a second-hand car, filled it with his prints and negatives, and moved to Paris where he met Christian Caujolle, who invited him to join Agence Vu, which represented him for nine years.
In 1992 he began working on personal projects, on subjects such as the Romani people in Italy and Bosnia and made several trips to the Balkans after Albania opened its borders. Through Christian Caujolle, he met Grazia Neri, who represented him in Italy. Between 1994 and 1995, he started working on a project about children in post-war Bosnia and travelled in Italy, Romania, Mexico, Uganda, Zimbabwe, and Kenya for a project on HIV/AIDS. In 1995 he won his first World Press Photo award for his work on AIDS in Uganda.
The year after, he was awarded the Kodak Young Photographer Award / Visa d'Or at Visa Pour l’Image photography festival for his reportage on AIDS in Uganda and participated in the World Press Joop Swart Masterclass. In 1997 he published his first book, Bambini, on his work about children in Bosnia, Uganda and Romania and was awarded the City of Gijòn International Prize of Photojournalism for his work on children in post-war Bosnia. In 1998 he worked on a project for Médecins Sans Frontières, which became a book, Cambodia, and a traveling exhibition. He won a World Press Photo award for his work in Cambodia. In the same year, he was given his first assignment by Kathy Ryan at the New York Times Magazine to work on blood feuds in Albania with reporter Scott Anderson. This assignment with Anderson marked the beginning of a long-time work collaboration that will result in over ten cover stories for the magazine.
Between 1999 and 2000 he travelled frequently between Kosovo, Albania, Macedonia, and Serbia during the war, creating an in-depth reportage on the conflict and its aftermath. He won a World Press Photo for his coverage of the conflict in Kosovo. In 2000 he was offered a contract position at Newsweek magazine by Director of Photography Sarah Harbutt and was awarded the Hasselblad Foundation Grant for Photography for his work in the Balkans. He also published the booklet L´au De La Est La, with his work on children in post-war Bosnia.
In 2001 he became a Magnum Photos nominee and won a World Press Photo award for his work on anti-terrorism in Algeria. During the same year, he won the Leica Medal of Excellence for his work in the Balkans. He began to travel extensively, covering news events mainly in the Middle East and Africa. In 2002 he published the book Kosovo 1999-2000: The Flight of Reason and won the German Hansel-Mieth prize for a story in Bosnia. In 2003 he travelled to cover the US-led invasion of Iraq. In 2004 he began travelling to Darfur to cover humanitarian crisis and won the Olivier Rebbot prize by the Overseas Press Club, USA, for his coverage of Darfur. He also won a World Press Photo award for his reportage on Yasser Arafat’s funeral. With Thomas Dworzak, Alex Majoli and Ilkka Uimonen, created Off Broadway, a traveling multi-media project. He became a Magnum Photos full member in 2005. In the same year he covered the aftermath of the tsunami and hurricane Katrina and won two World Press Photo awards, one for his work on the funeral of Pope John Paul II, and another for the reportage on the backstage of fashion shows in New York City.
Between 2005 and 2006 he worked on a project about the Guantamano Bay detention center and its former detainees in Afghanistan, Albania, Kuwait and the U.K. In 2006 he travelled to Lebanon to cover the war, where he was injured in Tyre. He won a World Press Photo award for his work in Lebanon and the W. Eugene Smith Grant in Humanistic Photography for his long-term project on Islam. In 2007 he was awarded the Robert Capa Gold medal by the Overseas Press Club for his work on the war in Lebanon and won the Leica European Publishers Award for Photography, as the result of which his As I Was Dying was published in seven languages. 2007 was also the year of Double Blind, with his work on the war in Lebanon, with a text by Scott Anderson. He also won City of Gijon International Prize of Photojournalism for his work on Lebanon. During 2008 he travelled to Syria and Jordan for a story about the Iraqi Diaspora and won the Deutsche Fotobuchpreis 2008 for the book As I was Dying and The Lucie International Photography Awards 2008 Book award. He also worked on the New York Times Magazine annual Oscar’s Portfolio.
In 2009 he was awarded Getty Image Professional Editorial Photography Grant for his work on the Iraqi Diaspora in the Middle East and a STERN Spezial Portfolio was published with a monograph of his work. In 2010 published the 5th annual Magnum Photos Fashion Magazine, STORM and the 130th number of the Photo Poche collection. The book Dies Irae was published in 2011, when he travelled to Egypt and Tunisia to cover the revolutions in North Africa. On assignment for Zeit Magazine, covered the Japan’s earthquake and tsunami destructions. He also went on a road trip from San Antonio to Oakland for the Magnum project “Postcards from America” with Jim Goldberg, Alec Soth, Mikhael Subotzky and Susan Meiselas.
In 2012 he published the book Paolo Pellegrin (Kunstfoyer der Versicherungskammer Bayern) and won a World Press Photo Award with his reportage about the tsunami aftermath in Japan. On assignment for Zeit Magazine, he went to Guantanamo once again, to document the U.S. Naval Base and detention center conditions under the Obama administration. He worked in Rochester and Miami for the Magnum project “Postcards from America”. On assignment for Zeit magazine, made a second trip to Rochester.
In 2013 he won his tenth World Press Photo Award with his reportage about Rochester, New York, Photographer of the Year in the 70th annual Pictures of the Year International competition and the prestigious Dr. Erich Salomon Prize 2013.
In 2014 Pellegrin's photos of the band U2 were used in the digital booklet accompanying U2's album Songs of Innocence.
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Main solo exhibitions
- 1993 - The Homeless, Visa pour l'image, Perpignan, France
- 1996 - AIDS in Uganda, Visa pour l'image, Perpignan, France, 1996; EFTI, Centro de Imagen, Madrid, Spain, 1997.
- 1997 - Emergency, Galleria Grazia Neri, Milan, Italy
- 1997 - Bosnia, Palazzo Re Enzo, Bologna, Italy; The Heritage of War, Chiesa di Santa Monaca, Florence, Italy, 1999.
- 1998 - Cambodia,Visa pour l’Image, Perpignan, France,
- 1998 - Cambogia, Convento Santa Chiara Napoli, Italy, 1999.
- 1999 - Cambodia, Galleria Carla Sozzani, Milan, Italy;
- 2000 - Kukes, War in Kosovo, Swedish Parliament, Stockholm, Sweden
- 2001 - Kosovo 1999-2000, Parsons School of Design, New York
- 2001 - Paolo Pellegrin, Leica Gallery, New York
- 2002 - Traces of War, [Hasselblad Center, Goteborg, Sweden, 2002; Mercati di Traiano, Festival Internazionale di Roma, Rome, 2002; Malmo Museer, Sweden, 2006.
- 2004 - Israel and Palestine, Bildens Hus Fotomuseet, Sundsvall, Sweden
- 2005 - The War of Desires, A3 Gallery, Moscow
- 2006 - Traces, Galleria Santa Cecilia, Rome
- 2007 - Broken Landscape, Museo di Roma in Trastevere, Italy
- 2007 - Darfur, Holocaust Museum, Berlin, Germany
- 2007 - Double Blind, CVZ Contemporary, New York, 2007; Fovea exhibitions, New York, 2008.
- 2008 - As I Was Dying, Leica Galerie, Solms, Germany, 2008; Rencontres d'Arles, Arles, France; Magnum Gallery, Paris; Zephyr Weltkulturen Museum, Mannheim, Germany; Western Australian Maritime Museum, Perth, Australia, 2008; Städtische Galerie, Iserlohn, Germany, 2012; Photobastei, Zürich, 2014.
- 2008 - Nero Avorio, Casa della Confraternita], Udine, Italy
- 2008 - Paolo Pellegrin, Bonni Benrubi Gallery], New York
- 2008 - Iraqi Diaspora, Visa pour l’Image, Perpignan, France
- 2009 - Black Mountains, Reportage Atri Festival, Italy
- 2010 - Retrospective, Galerie Fait et Cause, Paris
- 2010 - Paolo Pellegrin, [Galerie de l’Instant, Paris, 2010; Spazio Forma - Centro Internazionale di Fotografia, Milan, Italy
- 2011 - Paolo Pellegrin Solo Exhibition, Galerie Fait et Cause, Paris
- 2011 - Paolo Pellegrin Retrospective, Kunstfoyer der Versicherungskammer Bayern, Munich, Germany
- 2011 - Dies Irae, Fondazione FORMA per la Fotografia, Milan, Italy
- 2011 - Dies Irae, FO.KU.S Foto Kunst Stadtforum, Innsbruck, AT
- 2011 - Paolo Pellegrin Retrospective, Kunstfoyer der Versicherungskammer Bayern, Munich, Germany
- 2011 - As I was Dying, Palacij Ljublijankega gradu, March, Ljublijana, SLO
- 2012 - Dies Irae, Maison de La Photographie, Paris
- 2012 - Paolo Pellegrin, Galerie Italienne, Paris, 2012; Magnum Gallery, Paris
- 2012 - Dies Irae, Noorderlicht Gallery, Groningen, Netherlands
- 2012 - As I was Dying, Städtische Galerie Iserlohn, Iserlohn, Germany
- 2013 - Another Country, Fotografia - Festival Internazionale di Roma, Macro, Rome, 2013; Leica Galerie, Milan, Italy, 2015; Fotografia Europea, Reggio Emila, Italy, 2016.
- 2013 - Passaggi, Galleria del Cembalo, Rome Italy
- 2013 - Combating Chemical Weapons - Nobel Peace Prize exhibition 2013, Nobel Peace Center, Oslo, NO
- 2014 - Gaza Portraits, Perspektivet Museum, Tromso, Norway
- 2014 - As I was Dying Photobastei, Zurich, CH
- 2014 - As I was Dying, Haus der Photographie, January – March, Hamburg, Germany
- 2015 - As I was Dying IG Halle im Kunst(Zeug)Haus, Rapperswil, CH
- 2015 - Hafen, Flo Peters Gallery, Hamburg, Germany
- 2015 - Sevla, Fotografia - Festival Internazionale di Roma, MACRO, Rome
- 2016 - Great Performers, F11 Photographic Museum, Hong Kong
- 2016 - Sevla, Umbria World Fest, Foligno, Italy
- 2017 - Frontiers, Forte di Bard, April - November, Bard, Aosta Valley, IT
Main group exhibitions
- 2003 -Quotidiano al femminile, Istituto Nazionale per la Grafica, Rome, Italy
- 2003 - Confronting Views: Nine Photographers on the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict, The Photographers' Gallery, London
- 2003 - Confronto di sguardi / Confronting views. The Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Festival Internazionale di Roma, Contemporaneo Temporaneo, Rome, Italy
- 2003 - Phantom der Lust. Visionen des Masochismus in der Kunst Neue Galerie Graz, Graz, Austria
- 2003 - Exhibitions at Dokument 03. Bildens Hus, fotomuseet, Sundsvall, Sweden
- 2004 - Off Broadway, 60 Mercer Street, New York City
- 2004 - 11th Noorderlicht Photofestival 2004, Noorderlicht, Groningen, Netherlands
- 2004 - L'Ulivo - dono del Mediterraneo Galleria Grazia Neri, Milan, Italy
- 2004 - Magnum Stories, The Guardian Newsroom, London
- 2004 - Un mondo possibile – Le vie dello sviluppo, Fondazione Sandretto Re Rebaudengo, Turin, Italy
- 2005 - Off Broadway, Landesvertretung Rheinland-Pfalz, Berlin, Germany
- 2006 - Katrina - An Unnatural Disaster, Noorderlicht, Groningen, Netherlands
- 2006 - Off Broadway, sei giovani fotografi di Magnum, Padiglione d'Arte Contemporanea, Milan, Italy
- 2006 - The Sexy Mediterranean, Duncan Miller Gallery, Santa Monica, CA
- 2007 - Euro Visions, Royal Museums of Fine Arts of Belgium, Brussels
- 2007 - Indianscope, Maison de la Photographie, Lille, France
- 2007 - Degrees of Separation, Michael Mazzeo Gallery, New York City
- 2007 - Vor den Augen der Welt, Jüdisches Museum Berlin, Germany
- 2007 - Berlin 1946 - 2006, Camera Work AG, Berlin
- 2007 - Altri mondi - FotoGrafia, Festival Internazionale di Roma, Rome
- 2007 - Turkey by Magnum, Istanbul Museum of Modern Art, Istanbul, Turkey
- 2007 - Darfur/Darfur, George Eastman House, International Museum of Photography and Film, Rochester, NY
- 2007 - Paesaggio Prossimo, Spazio Oberdan, Milan, Italy
- 2007 - Apocalypse: Contemporary Visions, Candace Dwan Gallery, NY
- 2008 - Disposable People, Hayward Gallery, London
- 2008 - Access to Life, Corcoran Gallery of Art, Washington D.C.
- 2008 - MAGNUM Photos 60 years, Stedelijk Museum Post CS, Amsterdam
- 2009 - Tel Aviv Durch die Linse von Magnum Fotografen, Jüdisches Museum Berlin, Berlin, Germany
- 2009 - Georgian Spring, Magnum Photos traveling exhibition: Uferallen, Berlin Germany; Teatro Circo Price, Madrid, Spain; Palais de Tokyo, Paris, France.
- 2009 - Droit dans les yeux, Polka Galerie, Paris, France
- 2010 - demain/hier - tomorrow/yesterday, Magnum Gallery, Paris
- 2010 - Haiti Earthquake, Reportage Atri Festival, Atri, Italy
- 2010 - Magnum. Shifting Media. New Role of Photography, C/O Berlin, Berlin
- 2010 - Disquieting Images, Triennale, Milan, Italy
- 2011 - L'ombre de la guerre, Maison européenne de la photographie, Paris
- 2011 - Ombre di guerra, Ara Pacis, Rome, IT
- 2012 - Photojournalistes N.4, Galerie de l'Instant, Paris
- 2012 - The New York Times Magazine Photographs, Foam Fotografiemuseum Amsterdam, Amsterdam
- 2012 - Photography in Mexico, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, San Francisco, CA
- 2012 - Delpire &Co, The gallery at Hermes, NY
- 2012 - Time in Turkey, Thessaloniki Museum of Photography, Thessaloniki, Greece
- 2013 - Deutschlandreise, ZEPHYR - Raum für Fotografie, Mannheim, Germany
- 2013 - Photojournalistes N.5, Galerie de l'Instant, Paris
- 2013 - 25 Masters of Photography: Pictures of Turkey, art place berlin, Berlin
- 2013 - Visual Leader 2013, Haus der Photographie / Deichtorhallen, Hamburg, Germany
- 2013 - Wunden der Welt, Felix-Nussbaum-Haus, Osnabrück, Germany
- 2013 - Deutschlandreise, 5. Fotofestival Mannheim-Ludwigshafen-Heidelberg, ZEPHYR Raum für Fotografie, Mannheim, Germany
- 2013 - Grenzgänge. - Magnum: Trans-Territories Biennale für aktuelle Fotografie Mannheim, Germany
- 2013 - Passaggi, Galleria del Cembalo, Rome
- 2014 - Deutschlandreise. Deutsche Börse Photography Foundation, Eschborn, Germany
- 2014 - The New York Times Magazine Photographs, Aperture Foundation Gallery, NY
- 2014 - Magnum Contact Sheets, Robert Capa Contemporary Photography Center, Budapest
- 2014 - Postcards from America: Milwaukee, eleven Magnum photographers, Milwaukee Art Museum, Milwaukee, USA
- 2014 - Congo, Atelier Richelieu, Paris, 2014; Magasin Électrique, Rencontres d'Arles, Arles, France, 2015.
- 2015 - A occhi aperti - (With Open Eyes), Reggia di Venaria, Turin, Italy
- 2015 - A occhi aperti, AuditoriumExpo – Auditorium Parco della Musica di Roma, Rome
- 2015 - Terres dévastées, Festival Photo Peuples et Nature de La Gacilly, La Gacilly, Morbihan, France
- 2015 - Speak Truth to Power, Kunst(Zeug)Haus, Rapperswil-Jona, Switzerland
- 2015 - Magnum - Contact Sheets, Foam Fotografiemuseum Amsterdam, Amsterdam,
- 2015 - Merry Christmas!, Flo Peters Gallery, Hamburg, Germany
- 2016 - FotoGrafia. Festival Internazionale di Roma, Rome
- 2016 - The Rome Commission 2003-201, Istituto Italiano di Cultura, London
- 2016 - 11th European Photography - Reggio Emilia, European Photography - Reggio Emilia, Reggio Emilia, Italy
- 2016 - 7th BredaPhoto International Photo Festival, Breda Photo, Breda, Netherlands
- 2016 - Desperate Crossing, Istituto Italiano di Cultura] New York.
- 2016 - Extraordinary Visions. L'Italia ci guarda, MAXXI Museo Nazionale delle arti del XXI secolo, Rome
- 2016 - Fields of War, Massimo De Carlo, London
- 2017 - L'Italia di Magnum Da Henri Cartier-Bresson a Paolo Pellegrin, March–May, Camera, Torino, Italy
- "Exhibitions: Paolo Pellegrin: As I was dying", Les Rencontres d'Arles. Accessed 8 May 2014.