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03 Jun 2014 - 29 Jun 2014

The University Museum and Art Gallery (UMAG) is honoured to exhibit to the public one of the world’s most iconic images in modern photo-journalism, “Tank Man” by American photographer Jeff Widener. This centrepiece will be presented in a small group of 12 photos all documenting the political events at Tiananmen Square in June 1989.  In connection with this display, UMAG is delighted to welcome Mr Widener to give a public talk entitled The “Tank Man” and the Changing Art and Craft of Photojournalism on the 6 June 2014 (Friday) at 18:30.

Jeff Widener is an American photographer who took the famous image of a lone man confronting a column of tanks during the 1989 Tiananmen Square uprising, an image so iconic that it is known simply as “the tank man photo.”  For that picture, taken while he was a photojournalist for The Associated Press, Widener was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize.  Widener managed to sneak into Beijing for the two-week assignment.  He secretively positioned himself to take the tank man photo and then had it furtively sent for transmission—and eventual front-page display in newspapers worldwide.  At the Square, Widener documented the campaign of the students and other street protesters, and was almost killed when a stray rock thrown by a protester struck him in the face.

Widener began making images at an early age.  In 1974, while attending Reseda High School in California, he was awarded the Kodak/Scholastic National Photography Scholarship, for which 8,000 students from across the United States competed.  He later worked on daily newspapers in Indiana, Nevada, Florida and Hawaii.  At age 24, he joined United Press International in Brussels, Belgium, as an overseas wire service photographer.  Consequently, Widener became the Associated Press picture editor in Bangkok, Thailand.

Widener has covered major news stories in more than 100 countries, including the Gulf War, the Polish Solidarity movement, Khmer Rouge fighting in Cambodia, Pope John Paul II’s visit to Papua New Guinea, and the 1988 Summer Olympics in South Korea.  He was one of the few American staff photographers based overseas during the transition from analogue to digital photography.  Widener is credited with transmitting the first digital news images from the South Pole.

During his career, Widener has received hundreds of awards and citations such as the DART Award from Columbia University, The National Headliner Award, the Overseas Press Club and the New York Press Club awards, and the Scoop award in France.  He was the first non-Italian to win the Chia Sardina Award in Italy.

The University Museum and Art Gallery is thankful to Jeff Widener for this opportunity to display his artworks and to add to its collections this explicit photo documention commemorating the political events 25 year ago.


Tank Man, Beijing, China, June 4, 1989

Photograph by Jeff Widener/Associated Press

A lone man with shopping bags walks to the center of Chang’an Avenue and temporarily stops the advance of Chinese tanks after the bloody crackdown against protesters around Tiananmen Square. The fate of the man is still a mystery today. The incident has come to symbolise Tiananmen and is one of the most iconic news images of recent decades. The photo won the Scoop Award in France, the Chia Sardina Award in Italy, and was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize.

Guarding Mao, Beijing, China, June 5, 1989

Photograph by Jeff Widener/Associated Press

One day after the bloody crackdown on protesters, soldiers with a tank stand guard in front of the Forbidden City and its portrait of the late Chinese leader Mao Zedong. The area, opposite Tiananmen Square, was closed to the public, so Widener took this image while riding on a public bus.

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