About the Photographer
American, b. 1952
"Granada" (1979) is the cover photograph for Alex Webb's book "Hot Light/Half-Made Worlds: Photographs from the Tropics." In notes for the Museum of Contemporary Photography, Webb writes, "I took this photograph in a bar in a small town, Gouyave, on the west coast of Granada, W. I., where I was seeking shelter from the blinding heat of the midday sun. Turning from the chill of my beer I saw the men sitting against the brilliant translucent windows. I watched them; they watched me. I took a few sips of my beer [and] crept over to the men, silently raised the little camera to my eye and released the shutter – tentatively, and then again, twice more, with greater certainty. They remained silent, caught in a kind of timeless trance. Was it bafflement? Curiosity? Wonder? Bemusement? Resentment? Contemplation of the foreigner, the intruder? Or just a beery haze? Perhaps all of the above and so much more. A mysterious pregnant pause, now captured forever. I quietly thanked the men and slid back to my beer."
Alex Webb is classified alternately as a street photographer, photojournalist, and fine art photographer, but he claims "to me it all is photography. You have to go out and explore the world with a camera. Whatever category it falls into – it falls into." Under any title, Webb has created bodies of work that extend beyond the visual documentation of events and places he photographs. His style is characterized by intense color and light, and he hopes his pictures raise more questions than they answer. As seen in Puerto Rico, 1990, color is vital to his pictures, and Webb is not only drawn to tropical places but chooses film that emphasizes their warm tones and saturated hues. The result is evocative images of tropical and exotic places mixed with a sense of enigma, irony, and humor.
Alexander D. Webb was born in San Francisco on May 5, 1952. He received his BA in history and literature from Harvard University in 1974. Since 1975, Webb has participated in numerous exhibitions worldwide, and since joining Magnum Photos in 1976, his photographs have appeared in such magazines as Geo, Time, and The New York Times Magazine. He is the recipient of the Overseas Press Club Award (1980), the Leopold Godowsky, Jr. Color Photography Award (1988), a National Endowment for the Arts Grant (1990), the Leica Medal of Excellence (2000), and the David Octavius Hill Medaille (2002). His work is included in such collections as the Fogg Art Museum, Cambridge, Massachusetts; International Center of Photography, New York; Museum of Photographic Arts, San Diego, California; Southland Collection, Dallas, Texas; University of Massachusetts, Amherst; and the Getty Center for the Arts and the Humanities, Santa Monica, California. Webb lives and works in Brooklyn, New York.