The AFVS Department mourns the death of Chris Killip

October 20, 2020
Chris Killip

CHRIS KILLIP (1946 – 2020)


The AFVS Department mourns the death of Chris Killip who passed away on October 13, 2020. As Professor of Visual and Environmental Studies from 1991 to 2017, Chris was a beloved colleague and mentor to many. During his tenure Chris defined the photography program where his legendary 40A course, Fundamentals of Still Photography, long served as a critical entry point to VES and to art making for thousands of students. Chris’s impassioned teaching sprang forth from his unique photographic practice and deep connection to place, specifically the regions of Northern England where he spent many years observing and learning before making the images and books, starting with the now classic In Flagrante (1988), that would construct a soulful chronicle of the end of the Industrial Age. Only during the last decade has Chris’s work finally received the international recognition it so deserves, with major exhibitions staged across the US and Europe. Chris was remarkably prolific in his late career and painstakingly assembled and crafted a series of volumes drawing from his vast archive to critically meditate on the lost world captured by his empathetic camera. His last book, Skinningrove, will be published by Steidl in Spring 2021.  

In 2012 filmmaker and Visiting Professor Michael Almereyda (together with former VES Teaching Assistants Pacho Velez and Jenny Lim) filmed Chris in his regular Carpenter Center classroom speaking about his photographs and process, just as he did time and again to his fortunate students. Michael has kindly shared a link to his film (password: northsea).

Among the many tributes and obituaries written to honor our late colleague are the following. None, as is fitting, can fully capture the spirit and essence of this exemplary artist and colleague we were so lucky to count as one of our own.  

BBCGuardianGuardian – obituaryGuardian – in picturesLondon Review of BooksThe Art NewspaperARTnewsLe MondePublicode VolkskrantIsle of Man TodayManx Radio

When we are able to do so safely, the department will organize an in person event at the Carpenter Center to celebrate Chris’s life and career. 

Killip's photographs

        True Love Wall, Gateshead Town Centre, Tyneside, UK, 1975 © Chris Killip            
        Helen and Her Hula-hoop, Seacoal Camp, Lynemouth, Northumberland, UK, 1984 © Chris Killip