Eugene Richards

(1944) American


Born in Boston, Eugene Richards received a B.A. in English from Northeastern University in 1967, and began studying photography with Minor White at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology the following year. The two years (1968-70) Richards spent working as a health advocate in Eastern Arkansas through VISTA served as source material for his first book, Few Comforts or Surprises: The Arkansas Delta (1973). Since 1974 he has worked as a freelance photojournalist for such publications as Life, the London Sunday Times, and The New York Times. In 1979, he was invited to become a member of Magnum, a cooperative photo agency founded in 1947 by Henri Cartier-Bresson, Robert Capa, George Rodger and Chim (David Seymour), where he remained until 1995. He rejoined in 2002 for three more years. Richards was an artist-in-residence at ICP in 1978; he founded the Many Voices Press to publish two of his books, Dorchester Days (1978) and 50 Hours (1983). Among his honors are the 1986 Nikon Book Award for Exploding into Life (1986), which he combines his photographs and his wife's journal entries in a chronicle of her battle against malignant breast cancer; the 1987 ICP Infinity Award for Journalism, for his documentation of American poverty in Below the Line: Living Poor in America (1987); and the 1995 Infinity Award for Publications in 1995 for American We (1994). ICP exhibited his "Cocaine True, Cocaine Blue," also published in book form in 1995.
Richards, one of the best-known photojournalists in this country, for more than twenty-five years has been recording aspects of urban lives and painful human experiences that many people never witness. Emergency room panic, the desperation of junkies shooting heroin, housing project squalor: through Richards's compassionate photography we are faced with moments so brutal, personal and painful that they can only be real. As Cornell Capa has said, Richards "is a concerned photographer, and his concern is honest without a doubt."
Meredith Fisher
Handy et al. Reflections in a Glass Eye: Works from the International Center of Photography Collection, New York: Bulfinch Press in association with the International Center of Photography, 1999, p. 225.
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