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Steve McCurry

American, b. 1950

Steve McCurry is an American photographer who gained international acclaim for his arresting portrait of a young refugee known simply as Afghan Girl.

Originally published on the cover of National Geographic in 1985, the photograph shows a young Pashtun orphan, later identified as Sharbat Gula, who was living in a refugee camp near Peshawar, Pakistan, during the Soviet Union’s occupation of Afghanistan. The image is emblematic of McCurry’s work, which has brought him to war zones across the globe. Rather than focusing on the violence of the battlefield, McCurry seeks to capture the human face of conflict, distilling what is universal and recognizable in each portrait.

McCurry was born in Philadelphia and attended Penn State University, graduating cum laude with a degree in theater arts in 1974. After several years working at a newspaper in King of Prussia, Pennsylvania, he left to work as a freelancer in India, where he honed his skill for capturing unguarded moments in daily life. Just prior to the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, in 1979, he crossed the border from Pakistan into Afghan rebel–controlled territory, wearing native garb to disguise himself, with rolls of film sewn into his clothing. The photographs he took there were among the first in the world to document the conflict, and his work was awarded the Robert Capa Gold Medal for “photographic reporting from abroad.”

Over the course of his career, McCurry has documented daily life alongside conflicts in Cambodia, the Philippines, the former Yugoslavia, Beirut, Iraq, Afghanistan and Tibet. Though his photos depict serious and sometimes frightening situations, his ability to connect with subjects and capture something of their personalities allows his images to transcend the documentarian distance of wartime journalism. The results are real portraits that happen to be set in tough situations. Welder in a Ship Breaking Yard, Mumbai, India (1994), for instance, reveals only the subject’s eyes, but they’re so intently fixed on McCurry’s lens that they seem to express volumes. Monk Running on Wall (2004) shows a young monk defying gravity as he skitters along an exterior wall of the Shaolin Monastery in Henan, China, over the heads of his friends. Like a Baroque painting, McCurry’s picture captures a moment of dynamic action that reveals something instantly recognizable in a subject from another part of the world.

Find original Steve McCurry photography on 1stDibs.

Average Sold Price
$5,900
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Afghan Girl - Limited Edition Color Photograph, National Geographic, Portrait
By Steve McCurry
Located in Dallas, TX
One of Steve McCurry's most iconic images, this portrait features a young Afghan girl with piercing green eyes wearing a red head scarf. Afghan Girl by Steve McCurry is a 24 x 20 i...
Category

1980s Contemporary Steve McCurry

Materials

Digital

Dust Storm (Vertical) - Limited Edition Color Photograph, National Geographic
By Steve McCurry
Located in Dallas, TX
Dust Storm (Vertical) by Steve McCurry is a 30 x 24 inch Digital C-Print on FujiFlex Crystal Archive Supergloss Paper, available in an edition of 75. This photograph features a group...
Category

1980s Contemporary Steve McCurry

Materials

Digital

Afghan Girl by Steve McCurry, 1984, Digital C-Print, Portrait Photography
By Steve McCurry
Located in Dallas, TX
One of Steve McCurry's most iconic images, this portrait features a young Afghan girl with piercing green eyes wearing a red head scarf. Afghan Girl by Steve McCurry is a 24 x 20 i...
Category

1980s Contemporary Steve McCurry

Materials

Digital

Afghan Girl with Hands on Face by Steve McCurry, 1984, Digital C-Print
By Steve McCurry
Located in Dallas, TX
Afghan Girl with Hands on Face by Steve McCurry presents a powerful portrait. A young girl with piercing green eyes stares off in the distance. She wears a red scarf around her head ...
Category

1980s Contemporary Steve McCurry

Materials

Digital Pigment

Ahmadi Oil Fields by Steve McCurry, 1991, Digital C-Print, Photography
By Steve McCurry
Located in Dallas, TX
Ahmadi Oil Fields by Steve McCurry depicts two figures standing in a fiery landscape. They are both dressed in white hazmat suits with gas masks. Both figures are fixated by the fire...
Category

1990s Contemporary Steve McCurry

Materials

Digital

Mother and daughter on their balcony in Beirut by Steve McCurry, 1982
By Steve McCurry
Located in Dallas, TX
Mother and daughter on their balcony in Beruit by Steve McCurry depicts a woman and child sitting outside. The woman looks down, concentrating on peeling her potatoes, while the girl...
Category

1980s Contemporary Steve McCurry

Materials

Digital

Flower Vendor on Dal Lake by Steve McCurry, 1999, Digital C-Print
By Steve McCurry
Located in Dallas, TX
Flower Vendor on Dal Lake by Steve McCurry depicts a man transporting vibrant, multi-colored flowers in a canoe. He paddled down the calm river, passing by a house surrounded by lush...
Category

1990s Contemporary Steve McCurry

Materials

Digital

Afghan Girl iconic poster: Sharbat Gula, Pakistan (Hand Signed by Steve McCurry)
By Steve McCurry
Located in New York, NY
Steve McCurry Sharbat Gula, Afghan Girl, Pakistan (Hand Signed), 1984 Offset Lithograph poster Hand signed by the photographer in black felt pen on the front 24 × 20 inches Unframed...
Category

1980s Realist Steve McCurry

Materials

Felt Pen, Lithograph, Offset

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Artists Similar to Steve McCurry

Steve Mccurry art for sale on 1stDibs.

Find a wide variety of authentic Steve McCurry art available for sale on 1stDibs. If you’re browsing the collection of art to introduce a pop of color in a neutral corner of your living room or bedroom, you can find work that includes elements of blue, red, orange and other colors. You can also browse by medium to find art by Steve McCurry in c print, pigment print, archival pigment print and more. Much of the original work by this artist or collective was created during the 21st century and contemporary and is mostly associated with the contemporary style. Not every interior allows for large Steve McCurry art, so small editions measuring 5 inches across are available. Customers who are interested in this artist might also find the work of Patty Carroll, Maggie Taylor, and Andrew Moore. Steve McCurry art prices can differ depending upon medium, time period and other attributes. On 1stDibs, the price for these items starts at $750 and tops out at $125,000, while the average work can sell for $5,500.
Questions About Steve McCurry
  • 1stDibs ExpertApril 5, 2022
    Art photographer Steve McCurry is known for his close-up images of peoples faces, often termed a headshot. McCurry has traveled the globe, capturing conflicts, traditional cultures and scenes from contemporary society. His work often features bright colors in the center of the image, drawing the eye directly to his subject. Shop a selection of Steve McCurry pieces from some of the world’s top art dealers on 1stDibs.
  • 1stDibs ExpertMay 3, 2024
    Opinions vary as to what is Steve McCurry's best work. Undoubtedly, his most easily recognizable piece is Afghan Girl, a photograph that he took in 1984 that became a symbol of the suffering of refugees during the Soviet-Afghan War. Other works that could be thought of as among his best include Camels Under a Blackened Sky (1991), Man at the Holi Festival in Rajasthan (1996), Sri Lankan Fisherman (1995) and Shaolin Monastery (2004). On 1stDibs, find a range of Steve McCurry art.

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