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Larry Towell was the first Canadian to become a member of the prestigious Magnum Photos agency.

Larry Towell /Magnum

  • Larry Towell: Vintage Prints
  • Stephen Bulger Gallery, Toronto
  • Nov. 9 to Dec. 21, 2019
  • Guided tour of the exhibition with Towell: Nov. 16, 3 p.m.
  • Public reception: Nov. 16, 2 p.m. to 5 p.m.

Towell has been the recipient of numerous international prizes for his photography, including several first-place World Press Photo awards.

Larry Towell /Magnum

It’s people that photographer Larry Towell cares about. Whether he’s documenting a bombed-out Russian military base in Kabul, standing on the rubble of the fallen World Trade Center towers in New York or caught in a cloud of smoke from a tire fire in Gaza City, it’s the story of the individual’s part in the event that his lens is trained on.

In Vintage Prints, the story of Towell’s 40-year career in photojournalism is captured in 100 frames – ranging from early work to greatest hits to never-before-seen images – all documenting moments in the lives of ordinary people in often extraordinary circumstances.

Although his work has taken him all over the world, it’s the condition of landlessness that seems to capture his attention.

Larry Towell

Towell was the first Canadian to become a member of the prestigious Magnum Photos agency, founded by industry legends including Henri Cartier-Bresson and Robert Capa in 1947. Also a talented poet and folk musician, he has published 14 books, released four albums and been the recipient of numerous international prizes for his photography, including several first-place World Press Photo awards. But as much as he is any of his accomplishments, Towell is also a family man and sharecropper – he currently lives on a 30-hectare plot of land in Southwestern Ontario, where his daily uniform consists of a straw hat and suspenders. His business card describes him simply as “Human Being.”

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Although his work has taken him all over the world, from India to Guatemala, El Salvador to Palestine, and Mexico to Afghanistan, it’s the condition of landlessness that seems to capture his attention. To visit this version of the world stitched together through Towell’s stills is to gain a lesson in how to live meaningfully, and with humility: take your time, pay attention, make eye contact. Living at the frenzied pace of the endless scroll in a landscape mediated by social networking will leave anyone feeling dispossessed – it’s artists such as Towell who provide the grounding that will guide us toward reclaiming a truer sense of self.

To visit this version of the world stitched together through Towell’s stills is to gain a lesson in how to live meaningfully, and with humility.

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