Pulitzer Prize-winning photojournalist Lynsey Addario, known for her work covering conflicts and humanitarian crises in the Middle East and around the world, is joining New York gallery Lyles and King.
She will be the first traditional photographer on the gallery’s roster (although a few artists it represents do incorporate photography as an element of their practices in some shape or form).
“I liked the idea of joining a gallery that’s not specifically catering to photographers and photojournalists because I like to go beyond those borders,” Addario told Artnet News. “My goal is to be able to get the work out to a broader audience to people through museums and art fairs.”
For gallery founder Isaac Lyles, who works with a mix of emerging artists and older, under-recognized figures, Addario is a compelling, if unconventional fit for his stable.
“Many of the artists in our gallery programs address issues of identity, history, patriarchy, imperialism, global warming, and trauma,” he told Artnet News. “In Lynsey’s work, we have the raw, unvarnished, direct experience of an event of the happening of someone’s life. These photographs—taken in the moment, in the field, without sublimation—bear witness to those issues, often with profound empathy for her subject.”
“In my experience, the pictures and the stories that get seen are the ones that have really compelling, some would say beautiful photographs, which obviously is controversial because I’m often photographing very devastating scenes,” Addario said. “My first responsibility is, of course, getting the facts and making photographs that tell the story accurately. But I’m trying to find a way to photograph something that will engage the reader, rather than making them turn away.”
Addario became a war photographer after the September 11 attacks in 2001, and has worked in countries including Iraq, Darfur, South Sudan, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
The job has put her in unimaginable danger, such as being kidnapped not once, but twice, including a harrowing week-long ordeal in Libya in 2011, recounted in Addario’s 2015 memoir, . (The book is being adapted into a limited television series with Paramount and Viacom, and Addario is also the subject of a forthcoming documentary feature film.)
Most recently, Addario has been on the ground in Ukraine, documenting the Russian invasion and its deadly effects. Her photo of a Ukrainian family hit by a mortar attack, a mother and two children lying dead as soldiers attempt to save the father, was a finalist for this year’s Pulitzer Prize. Addario was just steps away from the falling shells that killed them.
“The unpredictability of Ukraine is what makes it really scary,” Addario said. “It’s an artillery war. You never really feel safe, but you feel like you’re in a situation that is a little back from the front line, and then a missile lands next to you.”
Some of the photographer’s images have become widely reproduced, such as her striking photograph of a pregnant women and her mother, dressed in vibrant blue robes, as they wait in the Afghanistan desert for a ride to the hospital after their car broke down.
“With photos of this caliber, telling stories of this urgency, it would just be wrong not to show them,” King added. “Sometimes, you have to take risks and say ‘this is urgent work, the market should come to this.’”
This will be the first time working with a dealer for Addario, who previously handled all her own sales, working with Epilogue, a Los Angeles post-production house recommended by director and photographer Sam Taylor Johnson, to produce prints.
Collectors typically reach out to Addario after seeing her work in the or . But as a mother of 11- and four-year-old children with a busy travel schedule that has her on the road as many as seven months a year (when we spoke, Addario was on her way to the airport for a shoot with in the Amazon), doing it on her own was becoming increasingly challenging.
Then, a relative of her husband suggested meeting with King, who has run his namesake gallery on the Lower East Side since 2015. Addario, who was working at the time on her 2022 retrospective exhibition at New York’s School of Visual Arts, invited him to see the show.
King was already a fan, having been introduced to Addario’s work by the writer, artist, and curator Danny Moynihan, currently the director-at-large at Nino Mier, the Los Angeles gallery with locations in New York, Brussels, and Marfa, Texas. Upon meeting in person, King and Addario began hammering out an arrangement to work together, starting with a solo show at the gallery next spring, organized with Moynihan.
Addario comes to the gallery with a built-in collector base that includes British rock star Elton John—and during the SVA show, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton stopped by for a private tour of the exhibition.
More importantly, with a career spanning 25 years, Addario boasts an impressive range of work, from California wildfires to African famines to survivors of sexual violence. Aside from last year’s retrospective, some of the photos haven’t ever been shown, such as shots of trans sex workers from 1999, a selection of which go on view today in “A District Defined: Streets, Sex, and Survival” at the American LGBTQ+ Museum in New York.
Both the artist and dealer are eager to delve into the archives and to present these works to the art world.
“What’s exciting to me is that Isaac is coming to my work with a super fresh eye—not from the genre of photojournalism,” Addario said.
“In a world where most of the work of a photojournalist is experienced on an iPhone, a laptop, or briefly on the newspaper page,” King added, “this is an opportunity to slow down, to pay closer attention to the issues at play and the subjects in the work, giving them greater dignity.”