Sundaram Tagore is pleased to present images from Amazônia, world-renowned photographer and activist-artist Sebastião Salgado’s most recent series and perhaps most personal project to date.
For more than five decades, Salgado has made it his life’s work to document humankind and nature on photographic expeditions around the world. For this series, he traveled deep into the heart of the Amazon, capturing the unspoiled beauty of the world’s most biodiverse region and its inhabitants in stunning back-and-white images. Salgado, who was born in Aimorés, Brazil, in 1944, initiated the project with the hope that it would serve as a catalyst for raising awareness of the need to protect the Amazon and its indigenous population.
Images from Amazônia have traveled to cities across the globe, including São Paulo, Rio de Janeiro, Rome, Paris, London, Manchester and Avignon. In the fall of 2022, the California Science Center in Los Angeles hosted the North American premiere, presenting more than 200 large-scale photographs suspended throughout the museum’s 13,000 square feet. The exhibition is scheduled to be shown throughout 2023 in Milan, Zurich, Madrid and Brussels.
In addition to work from Amazônia, we will also be showing select work from Magnum Opus, Salgado’s special series of fifty platinum-palladium prints representing some of his most powerful series, including Amazônia, Genesis and Workers. These rare prints, made in Belgium by the printer Salto Ulbeek, were recently presented in a selling exhibition curated by Lélia Wanick Salgado at Sotheby’s. It was the largest curated solo exhibition of photography in the auction house’s history, with 100 percent of the proceeds going to Instituto Terra, the Salgados’ nonprofit devoted to reforestation and environmental education. Sales raised more than a million dollars for the foundation.
Photographed during 48 trips to the Amazon forest, the series documents vast and remote realities, including the daily lives of indigenous people such as the Yanomami, Yawanawá and Zo’é. Salgado, who has been engaging with native tribes of the Amazon region since the mid-1980s, often lives with his subjects for months, breaking down barriers by immersing himself in their environments. The resulting images are infused with empathy and respect.
Shot over decades, the images have become a visual archive of sorts, documenting the Amazon’s receding water levels and plumes of billowing smoke as the region continues to face threats from logging, mining, dam building, cattle and soybean farming, and climate change. With deeply compelling narratives, Amazônia may be photojournalistic in nature, but technically and compositionally, the images stand on their own as masterful works of art.
Whether viewed from the sky or on the ground, Amazônia has always filled me with awe. Neither words nor photographs can fully convey the sensation of being overwhelmed by the sheer power and majesty of nature. Just as unforgettable is the feeling of intimacy I experienced when spending weeks on end with different tribes. Through them, the forest and rivers took on a new meaning, one that offered life and sustenance.
(Sebastião Salgado, Paris, 2021)
Sebastião Salgado was born in 1944 in Brazil. He lives in Paris, France. Having studied economics, Salgado began his career as a professional photographer in 1973 in Paris. He worked with various agencies, including Sygma, Gamma and Magnum Photos, until 1994, when he and Lélia Wanick Salgado formed Amazonas Images, created exclusively for his work. Today, the agency no longer exists and this structure has become their studio.
Salgado’s work has been the subject of many books, including Other Americas (1986), Sahel: l’homme en détresse (1986), Sahel: el fin del camino (1988), Workers (1993), Terra: Struggle of the Landless (1997), Migrations: Humanity in Transition and The Children: Refugees and Migrants (2000), Africa (2007), Genesis (2013), The Scent of a Dream (2015), Kuwait, A Desert on Fire (2016), GOLD (2019), and Amazônia (2021). Touring exhibitions of this work have been and continue to be presented throughout the world. In 2013, the book De ma terre à la Terre (From my land to the planet), a narrative account of Salgado’s life and career was published. In 2014, the documentary film The Salt of the Earth, directed by Wim Wenders and Juliano Ribeiro Salgado, was released.
Sebastião Salgado has been honored with numerous distinctions and photographic prizes. He is a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador and an honorary member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. In April 2016 Salgado was elected member of the Académie des Beaux-Arts of the Institut de France, for the seat previously occupied by Lucien Clergue. In 2021, he received The Praemium Imperiale Award, Japan Art Association, Japan. Lélia Wanick Salgado and Sebastião Salgado have worked since the 1990s on the restoration of a portion of the Atlantic Forest in the state of Minas Gerais in Brazil. In 1998 they succeeded in turning this land into a nature reserve and created the Instituto Terra, dedicated to reforestation, conservation and environmental education.