Conflict, colonialism and tribal rivalry: Steve McCurry’s iconic photographs show the unseen side of the country.

Conflict, colonialism and tribal rivalry: Steve McCurry’s iconic photographs show the unseen side of the country.

Magnum photographer Steve McCurry has been travelling to Afghanistan for over four decades now. His portraits of the region – which are marked by their haunting, evocative beauty – have captured years of conflict and colonial wars, as well as the everyday charm of the country.

It’s a style that has brought McCurry international acclaim; particularly thanks to his iconic 1984 portrait, ‘The Afghan Girl’. The shot, which shows a teenage Afghani with piercing green eyes and a crimson head scarf, has become one of the most famous pieces of photojournalism from the last century.

Kunar River, 1980

Kunar River, 1980

Now, McCurry’s work is being captured in its entirety for a new book. Afghanistan, published by Taschen, compiles all of the photographer’s most breathtaking work from the region. It includes decades of photos, many of which were taken in spite of great risk from the Mujahideen, the Russians, and the Taliban.

“Steve McCurry has been coming to Afghanistan for over 30 years, knows it intimately, understands its pains and pleasures, its charms and difficulties, and has seen it burn, heal, and develop,” summarises historian William Dalrymple in the book’s afterword. “His work has not just recorded and documented the visual reality of its modern history, in many ways it has also defined the way the world has come to see the country.”

“This collection is a testament to McCurry’s long- standing love of Afghanistan, his solidarity with its people, and his commitment to recording their wondrous diversity.”

Bamiyan, 2003

Bamiyan, 2003

Logar Province, 1984

Logar Province, 1984

Nuristan, 1992

Nuristan, 1992

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Afghanistan is published by Taschen, and available now. 

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