ONE of Britain’s most influential documentary photographers, Gwent-based David Hurn has donated his collection of photographs to the National Museum Wales.
David, who lives in Tintern, began his career in 1955 as an assistant at the Reflex Agency.
He gained his early reputation through his reportage of the 1956 Hungarian revolution and became a full member of Magnum Photos in 1967.
In 1973 he set up the School of Documentary Photography in Newport, and remained director until 1989.
His gift includes around 1500 of his own photographs that span his sixty-year career as a documentary photographer; and around 700 photographs from his private collection which he has compiled throughout the course of his career.
A selection of works from his private collection will be on display for the first time at National Museum in Cardiff from 30 September 2017, in Swaps: Photographs from the David Hurn Collection of Photography, an exhibition that launches the Museum’s new gallery dedicated to photography.
David has amassed his private collection over the past six decades, predominantly through swapping works with fellow photographers, including many of his Magnum colleagues.
In doing so he has assembled a significant and diverse collection that includes leading 20th and 21st century photographers such as Henri Cartier-Bresson, Eve Arnold, Sergio Larrain, Bill Brandt, Martine Franck, Bruce Davidson and Martin Parr, through to emerging photographers such as Bieke Depoorter, Clementine Schneidermann and Diana Markosian.
Over the last two years, he has been selecting photographs from his own archive to create a definitive edit of his life’s work. The collection of approximately 1500 new prints includes work made in Wales, England, Scotland, Ireland, Arizona, California and New York.
It includes some of Hurn’s most celebrated photographs, such as Queen Charlotte’s Ball, Barbarella and Grosvenor Square. However, it is his carefully observed photographs of his home country of Wales that are the focus of the collection. Following his gift, National Museum Wales is now the institution with the largest holdings of his work worldwide.
David Hurn said, “My earliest visual/cultural memories are visiting the museum when I must have been four or five. I remember the naughty statue - Rodin’s ‘The Kiss’ - and cases full of stuff that people had donated. Well now I have the chance to repay, something of mine will be there forever, I feel very privileged.”
David Anderson, Director General of Amgueddfa Cymru – National Museum Wales: “This exceptional donation by David Hurn will raise the profile of Amgueddfa Cymru - National Museum Wales as an important centre for photography in the UK. We know that photography appeals to our visitors and the exhibition in September launches the Museum’s first ever permanent gallery dedicated to photography.
“We are extremely grateful to David Hurn for this generous gift, which will drive this important and much needed photography programme for Amgueddfa Cymru, benefiting the people of Wales and those further afield.”