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David Douglas Duncan

(b. 1916)


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(1916– ).

Photographer. Known especially for combat reporting during the Korean War and for an extended pictorial record of Picasso's life and work, he was born in Kansas City and graduated from the University of Miami in 1938. As a Marine during World War II, he took his camera into battle in the South Pacific and accompanied dangerous aerial missions, including many over Okinawa. In 1946 he joined the staff of Life magazine, which sent him to Korea in 1950. Duncan became the preeminent photographer of the conflict there, as he compiled an intimate record of the lives of individual soldiers fighting a brutal and not entirely comprehensible war. In 1951 he published This Is War!, which combines images and text. The photographs themselves constitute not so much a record of events as a philosophical rumination on the nature and human costs of modern warfare. What he saw in Vietnam in 1967 so discouraged him that he published an angry book, I Protest!, Khe Sanh, Vietnam in 1968. His collected Vietnamese War photographs appeared in War Without Heroes (1970). In the mid-1950s, around the time Duncan left Life to work independently, he became acquainted with Picasso. This fruitful relationship eventually resulted in seven books, including The Private World of Pablo Picasso (1958), the first; Picasso's Picassos (1961), a color record of the artist's collection of his own work; and The Silent Studio (1976), a posthumous tribute. Among numerous other works of photojournalism, The Kremlin (1960) followed a trip to Russia. In the 1970s he produced books of experimental work, Prismatics: Exploring a New World (1972) and Magic Worlds of Fantasy (1978). Duncan has also published two autobiographical volumes, Yankee Nomad: A Photographic Odyssey (1966) and Photo Nomad (2004). He lives at Mouans-Sartoux, in the south of France near Cannes.

Subjects: Art.


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