Known particularly for his coverage of conflict and religion, Magnum photographer Abbas has died in Paris at the age of 74.
Among the many conflicts he photographed were wars and revolution in Biafra, Bangladesh, Northern Ireland, Vietnam, the Middle East, Chile, Cuba and South Africa during apartheid.
He also maintained an interest in religion, often documenting its relationship with society, as well as photographing every day life in Mexico.
Abbas was born in Iran in 1944, but later relocated to Paris. He first joined Magnum in 1981, having previously been a member of Sipa (1971-3) and Gamma (1974-80). He became a full member of Magnum Photos in 1985.
Reflecting on his time photographing the Vietnam War, Abbas said in 2017 “As a boy I had a heroic image of the journalist: you travelled, you went to war, you covered historic events.”
This is history
After photographing the revolution in Iran between 1978 and 1980, Abbas returned to Iran in 1997 after a seventeen-year period of voluntary exile. His book Iran Diary 1971-2002 documents Iranian history, photographed and written as a private journal. Calling himself a “historian of the present,” anybody that tried to prevent his photography was met with “This is for history,” in Farsi.
Other notable projects include travelling the world between 2008 and 2010 to document Buddhism, with a similar project covering Hinduism in 2013. His book Gods I’ve Seen is the culmination of this work, and was published in 2016.
Right up until his death, Abbas was continuing to explore religion, with a focus on Judaism around the world.
You can see a selection of images from the extensive Abbas archive on the Magnum website.