British photographer Chris Killip, who is best known for his black-and-white images of the working class in the United Kingdom, has died at age 74. The Guardian reports that the cause of his death was lung cancer.
Killip’s most famous and acclaimed series, titled “In Flagrante” and printed as a 1988 monograph, focuses on the lives of working-class people in the northeast of England between 1973 and 1985, during a period of deindustrialization for the country. The intimate and poignant images in that series turn a spotlight on the hardships faced by a community that was often rendered invisible by politicians and the media at the time.
“The objective history of England doesn’t amount to much if you don’t believe in it, and I don’t,” the artist has said of the series. “And I don’t believe that anyone in these photographs does either, as they face the reality of deindustrialization in a system which regards their lives as disposable.”
First published by Secker & Warburg, the book of photographs has since been reissued, and the images that comprise it have been exhibited at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London, the Getty in Los Angeles, the Musée de Photographie in Charleroi, Belgium, and other international venues.
Born in 1946 in the city of Douglas on the Isle of Man, Killip worked as a commercial photographer in the 1960s, and in 1972, he received a commission from the Arts Council of Great Britain to photograph the market towns of Huddersfield and Bury St Edmunds in England for the exhibition “Two Views—Two Cities” at Huddersfield City Art Gallery and Bury St. Edmunds Art Gallery. In 1975, he was awarded a two-year fellowship through which he would photograph England’s northeast. Killip also directed Side Gallery in Newcastle-upon-Tyne, where he lived for a number of years, from 1977 to 1979.
In 1991, he became a visiting lecturer in Harvard University’s department of visual and environmental studies, where he would later be made a tenured professor and department chair. Killip retired from his post at the university in 2017.
Throughout his career, the photographer had solo exhibitions at the Art Institute of Chicago, the Palais de Tokyo in Paris, Auckland Art Gallery in New Zealand, Howard Yezerski Gallery in Boston, the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía in Madrid, Tate Britain in London, and elsewhere. Today, Killip’s photographs can be found in the collections of the Museum of Modern Art in New York, the National Gallery of Australia in Canberra, the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam, and other institutions around the world.