A friend recently introduced me to the work of Sebastiao Salgado, who I think can lay claim to being the greatest photographer who has ever lived. I can say that the show I just saw at the International Center for Photography, Genesis, is the best photography show I’ve ever seen. In fact, in my mind there’s no clear second. If you love the epic and the grand, Salgado is your photographer. His work makes Ansel Adams look like point-and-shoot piffery.
Several years ago he put together a collection of photographs about the most extraordinary things that people are doing on earth – entitled Workers – and throughout he managed to combine the epic with the surreal in a way that is reminiscent of Bosch. In this latest collection, which is literally hundreds of massive photos, the exhibit itself on a truly epic scale which just about exhausts the little mind, his focus is on nature and man in nature, and it in every way earns its epic title, “Genesis.” Confronting almost every image you are left with the feeling, “This is the mind of God. I can’t understand this. I can’t understand this.”