Paul Greenfield MFA, ARPS

Brian Griffin (1948)

Considered “the photographer of the decade” by the Guardian Newspaper in 1989, “the most unpredictable and influential British portrait photographer of the last decades” by the British Journal of Photography in 2005 and “one of Britain’s most influential photographers” by the World Photography Organisation in 2015, Brian Griffin has been a freelance photographer, filmmaker and TV commercials and music video film director since 1972.

Born in Birmingham in 1948, Brian Griffin grew up in the Black Country. At sixteen years old, he worked in a factory, making conveyors for five years. In 1969, at twenty-one, he went to Manchester Polytechnic (1969 – 72) to study photography, one year before Martin Parr. After finishing the photo school in 1972, Griffin came straight down to London intending to be a fashion photographer and met Roland Schenk, the charismatic art director on Management Today, who offered him a job as a corporate photographer in November 1972. Brian Griffin continued working with him until the middle of the eighties.

Brian Griffin has been early on recognized as one of the most eminent British photographers of the seventies and eighties and as part of the “British Photographers of the Thatcher Years” with Martin Parr, Paul Graham, Graham Smith, Jo Spence and Victor Burgin, with whom he has exhibited in many iconic exhibitions: Young British Photographers at the Museum of Modern Art, Oxford in 1975 that toured in Europe and the United States; Portraits of Our Time at the Photographer’s Gallery in London in 1978; Three Perspectives on Photography: Recent British Photography, Hayward Gallery, 1979, among Martin Parr, Graham Smith, Jo Spence, Victor Burgin; Ten Contemporary British Photographers at the MIT in 1982; British Contemporary Photography Coming of Age at the Houston Fotofest, the Texan photo festival in 1986.

 Following his first solo show Rock ‘n’ Roll and The Office at the Contrast Gallery in London in 1981, during the eighties, Brian Griffin had a lot of solo shows in UK, France, Sweden, Germany, Holland, Portugal, Austria or Japan, including the ones at the Institute of Contemporary Arts in London in 1984, at the photo festival Rencontres d’Arles in France in 1987, and at the National Gallery in London in 1988.

Brian Griffin has published twenty books between 1978 and 2015. Brian Griffin often self-published his own books. Until 1990, he self-published six: Brian Griffin Copyright in 1978, Y in 1983, Open in 1986, Portraits in 1987, Portraits, Second Edition in 1988, and Work in 1989. Work went on to be awarded the Best Photography book in the World at the Barcelona Primavera Fotografica 1991. The Life magazine used the photograph “A Broken Frame” on its front cover of a special supplement “The Greatest Photographs Of The 80’s”.

In November 1991, after twenty years, Brian Griffin “walked away from photography,” as he himself remarked, and begun a worldwide-recognized carrier in advertising commercials and music videos during the nineties. He returned to photography in 2002. Since 2000 he has published 12 books and has had more than fifteen solo shows and four retrospectives: Influences (Retrospective) at the Art Museum, Reykjavik, Iceland in 2005, Face to Face: A Retrospective at Birmingham, UK in 2010, Brian Griffin: Annual Report 1974-2013, at the photo festival Foto/Industria in Bologna, Italy in 2013, and the latest one No Compromise (Retrospective) at the Kolga Tiblisi Photofestival in Georgia in 2015.

Brian Griffin has won many awards for his carrier as a photographer and filmmaker, including four ‘Most Outstanding Awards’ by the British association D & AD (Design and Art Direction) between 1984 and 1989. In 1987, he granted the ‘Freedom of the City of Arles, France’ during the photo festival Les Rencontres d’Arles. His book WORK won two prizes: the ‘Most Outstanding Award for Photography in a Book’ by D & AD in 1989 and the ‘Best Photographic book in the world’ by the pioneering Spanish festival Primavera Fotografica in Barcelona in 1990. Brian Griffin also won ‘Best Commercial of the Year’ by the Bafta Academy awards in 1992 for Forte/Saatchi & Saatchi. His short movie Claustrofoamia made in 1994 received the ‘Golden Monkey Award’ for Best Film at the Mons International Short Film Festival in Belgium and the ‘Certificate of Merit’ at the Chicago International Film Festival, both in 1995.

In 2009, Brian Griffin became the patron of the Derby Festival of Photography and continues to be the Festiva’ls patron. In September 2013, he received the ‘Centenary Medal’ from the Royal Photographic Society in recognition of a lifetime achievement in photography. On March 3rd, 2014, he received an Honorary Doctorate by Birmingham City University for his lifetime contribution to the City of Birmingham.

 Brian Griffin’s photographs are held in the permanent collections of major art institutions including the Victoria & Albert Museum, London; the Arts Council of Great Britain, London; the British Council, London; the National Portrait Gallery, London; the Museum Folkwang, Essen; the Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery; the Art Museum Reykjavik, Iceland; the Mast Foundation, Bologna; and the Museu da Imagem, Braga, Portugal.
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