• Kate Bush

Brian Griffin



Brian Griffin is one of the most influential photographers of his generation. Together with other Illustrious icons from the so-called ‘British Photographers of the Thatcher Years’ – Martin Parr, Paul Graham, Jo Spence and Victor Burgin – he determined the image and popularity of hundreds of companies and artists during the seventies and eighties. On account of his unorthodox talent, sense of adventure and his recognizable and thrilling imaging, Griffin made it to the absolute top in many disciplines: as a film maker, and as commercial and pop photographer. He gets more inspiration from the work of painters and artists than from fellow photographers. In particular you will find influences of expressionist cinema and painter Caspar David Friedrich in Griffin’s oeuvre.

Griffin is born in 1948 in Birmingham, but grows up in Lye in the Black Country, a region that in those days got by on coal mining. As a twenty-year-old Griffin leaves to study photography at Manchester Polytechnic. The only things he learns there are – in his own words – “how to lose my virginity and smoke”. In 1972, as a comparatively outsider, he sets up a studio on the banks of the Thames, in the London area of Rotherhithe. He starts working for business magazine Management Today and learns the tricks of the trade. When at the end of the seventies the economy shrinks, he takes his portfolio to the offices of the legendary Stiff Records company. In the following decennium, Griffin comes to blossom as the foremost visual storyteller of the New Wave, Post-punk and New Romantic movements.

Photographing the cover of Joe Jackson’s Look Sharp means his great breakthrough in the music scene. Ian Dury, The Clash, Depeche Mode, Echo & the Bunnymen, Iggy Pop, Kate Bush, The Specials, Siouxsie and the Banshees, Elvis Costello and countless other stars appear before Griffin’s lens. Almost all iconic LP-sleeves from the eighties are by him, and the artwork for Depeche Mode’s A Broken Frame is still regarded as one of the most beautiful album covers ever made. In 1989 The Guardian declared him the “Photographer of the decade” and in 2005 the British Journal of Photography called Griffin “the most unpredictable and influential British portrait photographer”.

Griffin has published more than twenty books, had more than fifty solo-exhibitions worldwide and you’ll find his work in the collections of, amongst others, the Victoria & Albert Museum in London, The Arts Council of Great Britain in London, Art Museum Reykjavik in Iceland and the Mast Foundation in Bologna. At the beginning of the nineties Griffin’s focus shifts from photography to the film camera, and he dedicates himself to music videos, advertisement and portraits of famous people like Helen Mirren, Vivienne Westwood, Damien Hirst, Sebastian Coe and Jonathan Ross.

He still lives and works in London.

In his book ‘POP’, that appeared November 2017, the English photographer brought together a compilation of his best work: more than 160 album and single sleeves, posters, and press pictures for more than 100 bands and artists. Many of these were never published before. Noorderlicht Photo Gallery shows work from the collection of Brian Griffin – emphasizing on the book ‘POP’ – and a selection of his music videos. Also a Behind the scenes film from 1984 is shown (Folio, Anglia Television).