Why is great British documentary photography overlooked at home?
Time for recognition ... Photographer Chris Kilip. Photograph: Kent Rodzwicz
Last week, a major retrospective of Chris Killip's work opened in the Folkwang Museum in Essen, Germany. For the uninitiated, Killip is a British photojournalist whose best known work is a book called In Flagrante, published in 1988, and is sometimes described as "the most important photobook to come out of England in the 1980s." (It currently changes hands on the collectors' market for £300 to £400, but you can purchase a recent reissue from Errata Editions for just under £30.)
Surely, too, a group retrospective of the above-named pioneers of British photojournalism is long overdue? My instinct is that this kind of work has long been out of fashion with our arbiters of culture in Britain. It is black-and-white, gritty, hard hitting and politically provocative – the photography critic, Gerry Badger, correctly described In Flagrante as "taken from the point of view that opposed everything Thatcher stood for". For all the above reasons, of course, Killip's brilliantly composed photographs have a certain renewed potency at a time of enforced austerity in a Britain that is, if anything, even more divided. More than that, though, they are great photographs per se and, as such, should be seen. It's time the lost generation of great British documentary photographers were acknowledged for their groundbreaking work at home as well as abroad.
• Watch a slideshow of Chris Killip's images on his website