David Hurn

October 4, 2023

The Magnum photographer has long been considered one of Britain’s most important photo reporters. The new exhibition offers insight into his multi-layered, unmistakeable oeuvre.
They obviously did not notice the photographer: deeply caught up in the notes and the script for their film, A Hard Days Night, John Lennon, Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr and George Harrison do not appear to have paid David Hurn any attention. Using his Leica, he was very discreet, and maybe The Beatles had long become accustomed to his presence, as he accompanied them during the production of the film in 1964. The same happened while they worked at EMI Studios (later to become Abbey Road Studios), when the photographer recognised the perfect moment: he could hardly have arranged the position of the four in one picture any better. Their posture, expressions, gestures: in this group photo, everything revolves around the work on a new project. It is a pictures that is deservedly considered an iconic masterpiece, and is now being exhibited at the Leica Gallery in Frankfurt. The show combines a whole series of the British photographer’s best images: further celebrities, such as Jane Fonda and Sean Connery; incomparable landscape shots and social studies in Wales, Hurn’s homeland. We see, for example, a picture of a retired man, who is joyfully trying to capture a balloon; two sheep together in an old hut, protecting themselves from the rain; and the image of two girls demonstrating their proficiency at a dance contest. Once again an ambiguous motif, it shows a social moment that can be evaluated both amusingly and critically: Hurn is much more than just a witness, he is also an interpreter of his times.

Hurn started out as a self-taught photographer. He developed his defining visual language in the fifties and sixties, combining a social attitude with artistic ambitions. Over his today close to seven decade career, Hurn repeatedly managed to capture moments with his purposeful as well as spontaneous eye, in images that also attests to his extraordinary sense of humour. His pictures often combine the bizarre from the perspective of a social historian. They are studies of society in visual form, that invite us to join him on a very personal journey through contemporary events. The best way to discover the work of the multi-award-winning photographer, is not only offered by the Frankfurt Icons exhibition, but also by a recently published photo book, David Hurn – Photographs 1955-2022.
Ulrich Rüter
All images on this page: © David Hurn / Magnum Photos 2023

LFI 7.2023+-

Find an overview of the remarkable life’s work of Leica photographer David Hurn in LFI Magazine 7.2023. More


The Icons exhibition at the Leica Gallery in Frankfurt runs from September 29, 2023 to January 13, 2024. The photo book David Hurn – Photographs 1955-2022 has been published by RRB Photobooks.

David Hurn+-

(C) David Hurn _ Magnum Photos _ Agentur Focus 2
© David Hurn / Magnum Photos / Agentur Focus

Born in Redhill, Surrey, England on July 21, 1934, the self-taught David Hurn acquired his first experiences as a photo journalist in London, working for the Reflex Agency. He achieved initial recognition as a result of the pictures he took during the Hungarian Revolution of 1956. In the sixties he also worked as a stills photographer on films. He has been a full member of the Magnum Agency since 1967. The photographer has been living in Tintern, Wales since 1972. In 1973 he founded the School of Documentary Photography in Newport, Wales, where he taught up until 1989. In 2017, he donated around 1,500 of his own photographs and the majority of his valuable collection to the Amgueddfa Cymru - National Museum Wales in Cardiff. More