James Barnor (Photofile)

Christine Barthe

A concise survey of the pioneering work of London-based Ghanaian photographer James Barnor.

With a practice spanning six decades and two continents, ranging from street to studio and fashion to documentary, Ghanaian photographer James Barnor (born 1929) is now recognized as a pivotal figure in the history of photography. Moving between Accra and London throughout his life, Barnor’s photographic portraits visibly map societies in transition: Ghana gaining independence from Britain, and London embracing the freedoms of the swinging sixties. He has said, "I was lucky to be alive when things were happening . . . when Ghana was going to be independent and Ghana became independent, and when I came to England the Beatles were around. Things were happening in the sixties, so I call myself Lucky Jim."

Barnor’s photographs have been described as "slices of history, documenting race and modernity in the post-colonial world," and he has been the subject of several major retrospectives over the last fifteen years. A concise survey in the Photofile series, James Barnor is the perfect overview of his multifaceted work.


Christine Barthe


Christine Barthe is head of the photographic collection at the Quai Branly Museum in Paris.