Awardee 2019

Sebastião Salgado

The Board of Trustees of the Peace Prize of the German Book Trade has chosen the Brazilian photographer Sebastião Salgado to be the recipient of this year’s Peace Prize. The award ceremony took place on Sunday 20 October 2019, at the Church of St. Paul in Frankfurt am Main. The laudation was held by German film director Wim Wenders.

Statement of the Jury

The German Publishers and Booksellers Association hereby awards the 2019 Peace Prize of the German Book Trade to Brazilian photographer Sebastião Salgado. In doing so, the association and its members have chosen to honour an exceptional visual artist who has continually campaigned on behalf of peace and social justice and whose entire photographic oeuvre lends a sense of urgency to the global debate surrounding nature conservation and environmental protection. With his ongoing work at the »Instituto Terra«, he also continues to make a direct contribution to the restoration and revitalization of biodiversity and ecosystems.

The photographs of Sebastião Salgado have been showcased in innumerable exhibitions and books, many of which show communities strongly rooted in their traditional natural environments, while others portray individuals violently uprooted by war and climate catastrophe. As a consequence of his considerable body of work, Sebastião Salgado has succeeded in raising worldwide awareness for the fate of labourers and migrants as well as for the living conditions of indigenous peoples.

By describing his often breathtaking and characteristically black-and-white photographs as an »homage to the grandeur of nature« and by capturing in equal measure both the fragile beauty and environmental destruction of our earth, Sebastião Salgado offers us the opportunity to recognise our planet as a habitat for living creatures, that is, as a home that does not belong to us alone, and one that we must take every effort to preserve."

The Award Ceremony

Heinrich Riethmüller überreicht Sebastião Salgado die Urkunde.


Only when the trees have been counted and the foliage leaf by leaf brought to the ministries will we know what the earth was worth.

Heinrich Riethmüller - Welcome Greeting
Heinrich Riethmüller
Greeting of the president

Can taking a photograph be an act of peace? Can photography foster peace? These questions are not as rhetorical as you might think.

Wim Wenders - Laudation on Sebastião Salgado
Wim Wenders

Dear friends, I feel immensely honored to receive the prestigious Peace Prize of the German Book Trade.

Sebastião Salgado - Acceptance Speech
Sebastião Salgado
Acceptance speech

Chronicle of the Year 2019

+ + + In a terrorist attack on two mosques in Christchurch (New Zealand) on 15 March, a right-wing terrorist killed a total of 51 people. + + + A short-circuit triggers a major fire in Notre-Dame de Paris Cathedral on 15 April, which causes the entire lead ceiling of the building to collapse. + + + In the European elections at the end of May, Great Britain participates for the last time, as the Brexit exit agreement has not yet been passed. + + + On June 2, the president of the Kassel district council Walter Lübcke is shot dead by a right-wing extremist. + + +

+ + + In summer, countless forest fires are set in the Amazon region and in Southeast Asia, which can even be seen from space, and which influence the discussion on global warming, which is also called for by the Fridays-For-Future movement. + + + On Yom Kippur (October 9th), the highest Jewish holiday, a right-wing extremist tries to enter the synagogue in Halle to kill the people gathered there. When this fails, he shoots two other people while fleeing. + + + On 30 December, Li Wenliang, an ophthalmologist living in Wuhan (Chhina), informs his colleagues of seven patients suspected of being infected with the SARS virus who are being treated in the central hospital. The Chinese authorities put him under pressure, causing the so-called Coronas virus to spread uncontrollably.


Sebastião Ribeiro Salgado was born on 8 February 1944 in the town of Aimorés in the Brazilian state of Minas Gerais, where he grew up on a large cattle farm in a rainforest area. At the age of sixteen, he travelled the 185 kilometres to Vitória, where he finished school. After that, he went on to study economics in São Paulo. During the Brazilian military dictatorship, he and his wife, architect Lélia Wanick Salgado, were involved in the leftist opposition movement, which ultimately prompted them to leave for Paris in 1969.

In 1971, Salgado worked as an economist at the International Coffee Organization (ICO), where he oversaw development aid projects in Africa. Upon discovering his passion for photography, he left his job in 1973 to devote himself entirely to the craft. In 1994, after many years of working with various photo agencies, including »Sygma Agency«, »Gamma Agency« and »Magnum Photos«, he joined his wife to co-found their own agency, »Amazonas images«.

Poverty, displacement, war and the loss of home have been the main motifs of Salgado’s characteristically black-and-white photographs from the very beginning. Many of these projects and their accompanying photo volumes were created in cooperation with organisations such as Doctors Without Borders, UNICEF, UNESCO and Reporters Without Borders. Salgado’s first book of photographs came in 1986 with Other Americas, which focused on poverty in Latin America, and Sahel: Man in Distress, which focused on drought-stricken northern Africa. Between 1986 and 1992, he travelled to a total of 23 countries as part of a long-term project focusing on the struggles of manual workers and the gradual disappearance of traditional methods of labour and production. The resulting book of photographs, Workers. An Archaeology of the Industrial Age, spotlighted labourers in – among many others – the gold mines of Brazil, during the construction of the Eurotunnel and at a dam in India. The related “Workers” exhibition was also displayed in more than 60 museums. 

In 1993, Salgado launched his next project, which focused on the fate of refugees and took him to more than 40 different countries. The books Migrations and The Children: Refugees and Migrants, both of which were published in 2000, drew attention to the fate of 30 million displaced persons worldwide and raised money for the children’s charity organisation UNICEF. These two books were reprinted in 2016 under the titles Exodus and Children – Enfants – Kinder as part of efforts to highlight the fact that the number of refugees had grown to over 60 million by that time.

In the mid-1990s, Salgado took a break from photography, in part due to health concerns but also because he had been overcome by doubts regarding his own work, in particular as a result of his direct confrontation with the genocide in Rwanda. Upon returning home to Brazil, he and his wife discovered to their dismay that his parents’ Bulcão Farm had atrophied. The rainforest, which had previously made up half of the area, had shrunk to one half of one percent. Lélia and Sebastião Salgado thus began their efforts to reforest the region. By 1998, they had converted 680 hectares into a nature reserve and founded their non-profit »Instituto Terra«.

After this experience, Salgado resumed working as a photojournalist and increasingly turned his attention to landscape photography. In Africa (2007), he placed images of people marked by hunger, war and displacement next to photographs of breathtakingly beautiful landscapes. This method caused some irritation among critics; on the one hand, he was accused of aestheticising misery and turning it into kitsch; on the other hand, his advocates lauded the empathy contained in his images, called attention to his policy of never photographing anyone against their will and praised his respectful approach, which always upheld the dignity of his subjects.

In 2004, Salgado began work on his next mammoth project, called “Genesis”, in which he sought to capture his impressions of untouched nature, animals and indigenous peoples. The volume of 500 photographs, published in German under the title Genesis in 2013, and the exhibition of the same name demonstrate his desire to protect those as-yet-intact parts of the world. And, according to critics, he succeeded wildly in his efforts at doing so.

In 2014, German filmmaker Wim Wenders teamed up with Salgado’s son Juliano Salgado to make a documentary called The Salt of the Earth, which examined the elder Salgado’s life and work. Two years later, Salgado published Kuwait, a volume of photographs exploring the devastating inferno that resulted from Iraq’s bombardment of Kuwaiti oil wells in the First Gulf War (1990/1991). In 2016, Salgado become a member of the Académie des Beaux-Arts of the Institut de France, one of the most important cultural honours in France. In 2019, Salgado and his wife announced that the reforestation of the Bulcão Farm had been successful thanks to help from donations, volunteer work and tremendous personal commitment. Over 2.7 million trees were planted and helped return almost the entire forest to its original condition as a home to a great diversity of plants and animals. Today, 172 bird species are once again living in what is now an official nature conservation area.

Sebastião Ribeiro Salgado and architect Lélia Wanick Salgado have been married since 1967. The couple lives in Paris and has two sons, Juliano (b. 1976) and Rodrigo (b. 1981).

Awards (Selection)

2019 Peace Prize of the German Book Trade
2019 Elected Foreign Honorary Member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters
2018 Prize of the Sociedad Geografica Española
2018 Chevalier de l’Ordre du Mérite Culturel, Principality of Monaco
2018 Prix de la Lusophonie (with Lélia Wanick Salgado)

2016 Member of the Académie des Beaux-Arts de l‘Institut de France
2016 Chevalier (Knight) de la Légion d’Honneur
2016 Doctor Honoris Causa of the University Vitória, Brazil
2016 International Primo Levi Award
2016 Prêmio Personalidade França-Brasil
2015 Special Award of the Photography Appreciation Award
2015 Hamdan International Photography Award, Dubai
2015 The Cherry Kearton Medal and Award of ther Royal Geographical Society
2015 Photo London Master of Photography Award
2014 Commandeur de l‘Ordre des Arts et des Lettres
2014 Premio Ítaca, Spain
2012 »Personalidade Ambiental«-Prize of the World Wildlife Fund
2011 International Understanding through Photography Award
2010 Save the Children International Prize
2010 Lifetime Achievement Award of the North American Nature Photography Association
2010 Gold Medal of Honour of the Al-Thani Award for Photography
2009 Prêmio Dom Luís Gonzaga Fernandes, Brazil
2008 Prêmio Faz Diferença, Brazil
2007 Michael Horbach Foundation Prize
2005 Gold Medal Award for Photography, The National Arts Club
2004 »Comendador da Ordem de Rio Branco«, Brazil
2004 Lucie Award for Outstanding Achievement in Humanitarian Photography
2003 International Award of the Photographic Society of Japan
2002 Honorary Doctor of Letters, University of Nottingham
2000 »Presidenza della Repubblica Italiana«-Medal
2000 Doctor Honoris Causa of the University of Evora, Portugal
2000 Honorary Doctor of Fine Arts, New School University, New York
2000 Honorary Doctor of Fine Arts, The Art Institute of Boston at Lesley University
2000 Prêmio Muriqui, Brazil
2000 Premio »Ayuda en Accion«, Madrid
1999 The Alfred Eisenstaedt Award for Magazine Photography
1999 Prêmio Unesco, category Culture, Brazil
1998 The Alfred Eisenstaedt »Life Legend« Award, Life Magazine
1998 Prêmio Jabuti for the book »Terra«, Brazil
1998 Prince of Asturias Awards
1997 Prêmio Nacional de Fotografia, Brazil
1997 Prêmio A Luta pela Terra, Personalidade da reforma agrária, Brazil
1996 Award «Overseas Press Club of America»
1994 Centenary Medal of the Royal Photographic Society of Great Britain
1994 Grand Prix National of France’s Ministry of Culture
1994 Professional Photographer of the Year, Photographic Manufacturers and Distributors Association
1993 Best Photography Book of the Year für »Workers«, Arles International Festival
1993 Trophée Match d'Or for his live achievement, France
1993 »World Hunger Year Harry Chapin Media Award«
1992 and 1996 Art Directors Club Award, Germany
1992 Elected Foreign Honorary Member of the »American Academy of Arts and Sciences«
1991 The Common Wealth Award For Mass Communication
1991 Le Grand Prix de la Ville de Paris
1990 Visa d’Or Award, International Festival of Photojournalism Perpignan
1989 The Artist of Merit Josef Sudek-Medaille
1989 Erna and Victor Hasselblad Award for life achievement
1988 and 1991 Gold Award / Art Directors Club, USA
1988 Erich Salomon Award
1988 Premio de Fotografía Rey de España, Spain
1987 Photographer of the Year Award / American Society of Magazine Photographers
1987 Olivier Rebbot Award, Overseas Press Club, USA
1987 Journalistenpreis Entwicklungspolitik
1987 Prix Villa Médicis, France
1986 and 1988 Photojournalist of the Year Award / International Center of Photography
1986 Prêmio de la Foto Ibero Americana
1986 Prix du Livre for »Sahel, l'Homme en Détresse«, Arles International Festival, France
1985 Oskar Barnack Award
1985 World Press Photo Award, Netherlands
1984 Prix de la Ville de Paris et Kodak
1982 Eugene Smith Award for Humanitarian Photography



Fotografien von Sebastião Salgado und Alan Riding, hrsg. von Lélia Wanick Salgado Taschen Verlag, Köln 2019, 208 Seiten, Hardcover, ISBN 978-3-8365-7508-9, € 50,00 / CHF 70,00 (UVP) (erscheint am 28.08.2019)

GENESIS. Postcard Set (frz./dt./engl./span.)

Fotografien von Sebastião Salgado Taschen Verlag, Köln 2019, Postkartenbox mit 25 Motiven, ISBN13: 978-3-8365-4801-4, € 15,00

Kuwait : a desert on fire : eine Wüste in Flammen : un désert en feu (engl./frz./dt.)

Fotografien von Sebastião Salgado, Konzept und Design von Lélia Wanick Salgado; übersetzt von Julia Heller (dt.) und Jacques Bosser (frz.) Taschen Verlag, Köln 2016, 205 Seiten, Festeinband, ISBN 978-3-8365-6125-9, € 49,99 / CHF 69,90 (UVP)

Exodus (Neuauflage von »Migranten«)

Fotografien von Sebastião Salgado, Konzeption und Design von Lélia Wanick Salgado, deutsche Übersetzung von Waltraud Götting, Vorwort zur Neuausgabe von Julia Heller Taschen Verlag, Köln 2016, 431 Seiten mit 32seitigem Booklet, Festeinband, ISBN 978-3-8365-6129-7, € 50,00 / CHF 70,00 (UVP)

Mehr anzeigen

Children – Enfants – Kinder (Neuauflage von »Kinder der Migration«) (engl./frz./dt.)

Fotografien von Sebastião Salgado, übersetzt von Waltraud Götting (dt.) und Jean-Luc Muller (frz.) Taschen Verlag, Köln 2016, 123 Seiten, Festeinband, ISBN 978-3-8365-6136-5, € 39,99 / CHR 54,90 (UVP)

Duft der Träume – Reise in die Welt des Kaffees

Fotografien von Sebastião Salgado, hrsg., geplant und gestaltet von Lélia Wanick Salgado, übersetzt von Annegret Hunke-Wormser und Claudia Theis-Passaro Knesebeck Verlag, München 2015, 317 Seiten, Festeinband, ISBN 978-3-86873-884-1, € 59,00

Anderes Amerika (orig. »Autres Amériques«, 1986)

Fotografien von Sebastiao Salgado, Konzept und Layout von Lélia Wanick Salgado, aus dem Französischen von Bernd Weiß Knesebeck Verlag. München 2015, 127 Seiten, Paperback, ISBN 978-3-86873-863-6, €(D) 34.,95 / €(A) 36,00 / CHF 46,90 (UVP)

Salz der Erde

Fotografien von Sebastião Salgado (Themenheft »Du«-Magazin, Nr. 851) Du Kulturmedien, Zürich 2014, 98 Seiten, gebunden, ISBN 978-3-905931-47-1, € 15,00 / CHF 20,00 (UVP)


Fotografien von Sebastião Salgado, hrsg., geplant und gestaltet von Lélia Wanick Salgado, übersetzt von Ulf Müller Taschen Verlag, Köln 2013 (Neuauflage 2019), 520 Seiten, gebunden, ISBN 978-3-8365-4259-3, € 60,00 / CHF 75,00 (UVP)

China. Vergangenheit - Gegenwart – Zukunft

Fotografien von Jonathan Spence, Sebastião Salgado, Henri Cartier-Bresson und Olivier Pin-Fat Reich terra magica, Wien 2008, 272 Seiten, gebunden, ISBN 978-3-7243-1011-2, € (D) 40,00 / € (A) 41,20 / CHF 49,50 (UVP)

Africa (engl./frz./dt.)

Fotografien von Sebastião Salgado, Texte von Mia Couto, hrsg. von Lélia Wanick Salgado, übersetzt von Dennis Wright (engl.), Astrid Paiva Boléo (dt.) und Françoise Veiga (frz.) Taschen Verlag, Köln 2007, 336 Seiten, gebunden, ISBN 978-3-8228-5621-5, € 60,00 / CHF 75,00 (UVP)

Sebastião Salgado. Photo Pocket

Fotografien von Sebastião Salgado, mit einer Einführung von Christian Caujolle Edition Braus im Wachter Verlag, Heidelberg 2006, 62 Blatt, kartoniert, ISBN 978-3-89904-238-2, € 12,90 / CHF 22,60 (UVP)

Fotos für die Pressefreiheit

Herausgegeben von Reporter ohne Grenzen / LebensWandel mit Fotografien von Volker Krämer, Jan von Banning, Sebastião Salgado, James Nachtwey, Manuel Bauer, Caroline Groszer und H. J. Burkard, Bearbeitung von Barbara Petersen TAZ, Berlin 2000, 100 Seiten, kartoniert, ISBN 978-3-9806917-0-3; €[D] 10,00 / €[A] 10,30 / CHF 19,20 (UVP)

Further Publications

Les Voies du bonheur

par Jean-Marie Pelt et Sebastiao Salgado Editions de La Martinière, Paris 2010

Photofile Sebastião Salgado

Thames & Hudson, London 2006

Photopoche Sebastião Salgado

Lunwerg Editores, Barcelona 2006

L’homme et l’eau

par Sebastião Salgado et Christian Sorg Editions Terre Bleue, Paris 2005

The cradle of inequality

by Sebastião Salgado and Cristovam Buarque UNESCO-Office Brasilia, Brasilia 2005

Sahel, The End of the Road

by Sebastião Salgado University of California Press, Berkeley 2004

FotoNote Sebastião Salgado

Contrasto Books, Rom 2004, N° 02

The End of Polio: A Global Effort to End a Disease

by Sebastião Salgado with a preface by Kofi Annan Little Brown & Company, Boston 2003 (Dokumentation der UNICEF-Kampagne zur Bekämpfung der Kinderlähmung)

Salgado, Parma

by Sebastião Salgado Contrasto Books, Roma 2002

Malpensa, La città del volo, SEA Aeroporti di Milano

by Sebastião Salgado Contrasto Books, Roma 2000

Kinder der Migration (orig. »The Children: Refugees and Migrants«, 2000)

Fotografien von Sebastião Salgado, Konzeption und Design von Lélia Wanick Salgado, übersetzt von Waltraud Götting Verlag Zweitausendeins, Frankfurt am Main 2000, 111 Seiten

Serra Pelada (Photo Poche)

par Sebastião Salgado Editions Nathan, Paris 1999

Um Fotógrafo em Abril

de Sebastião Salgado Ed. Caminho, Lissabon 1999


Fotografien von Sebastião Salgado, mit einer Einf. von José Saramago und Gedichten von Chico Buarque, aus dem Portugiesischen von Hans Therre Verlag Zweitausenundeins, Frankfurt am Main 1997, 143 Seiten, kartoniert

Die Würde des Menschen

Fotografien von Sebastião Salgado [Reporter ohne Grenzen] TAZ, Berlin 1996, 94 Seiten, kartoniert

Sebastião Salgado

Fotografien von Sebastião Salgado, hrsg. v. Werner Funk Gruner + Jahr, Hamburg 1996, 110 Seiten

Arbeiter: Zur Archäologie des Industriezeitalters (orig. »Workers: An Archaeology of the Industrial Age«)

Fotografien von Sebastia̋o Salgado, übersetzt von Waltraud Götting Verlag Zweitausenundeins, Frankfurt am Main 1993, 399 Seiten mit 23seitiger Beilage


par Sebastião Salgado Centre National de la Photographie, Paris 1993, N° 55

The Best Photos – As Melhores Fotos

de Sebastião Salgado Boccato Editores, São Paolo 1992

An Uncertain Grace

by Sebastião Salgado with essays by Fred Ritchin and Eduardo H. Galeano Aperture Foundation, New York 1990

Les Cheminots

par Sebastião Salgado Comité Central d'Entreprise de la SNCF, Paris 1989

Sahel, El Fin del Camino

de Sebastião Salgado Comunidad de Madrid, for Medicos Sin Fronteras, Madrid 1988

Sahel: L'Homme en Détresse

par Sebastião Salgado Prisma Presse and Centre National de la Photographie, Paris 1986

Wim Wenders

Wim Wenders was born in Düsseldorf in 1945. After initially pursuing studies in medicine, philosophy and sociology and living and working abroad in Paris, he went on to complete a degree from 1967 to 1970 at the newly established film school known as the Hochschule für Film und Fernsehen (HFF) in Munich. While still studying at the HFF, he made his first short films and also worked as a film critic for Filmkritik, Süddeutsche Zeitung, Der Spiegel and Twen.

In 1971, he became a founding member of Filmverlag der Autoren, a German film distributor. Wenders first attracted widespread attention for his own work in 1972 with the film version of Peter Handke’s novel The Goalkeeper’s Fear of the Penalty. His 1974 road movie Alice in the Cities marked his artistic breakthrough.

In 2014, Wenders made The Salt of the Earth, an Oscar-nominated documentary about Sebastião Salgado, this year’s Peace Prize recipient. Wenders had previously received Oscar nominations for Buena Vista Social Club (1999) and Pina (2011). His The State of Things (1982) was awarded the Golden Lion at the Venice Film Festival. His Paris, Texas (1984) received the Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival, where he also received the Best Director prize for Wings of Desire (1987).

Wenders’ photographs have been exhibited throughout the world. He has acted as president of the European Film Academy since 1996 and in 2005 became a member of the prominent German order known as Pour le Mérite. In 2012, he created the Wim Wenders Foundation as a way of bringing together his artistic work while also supporting young filmmakers. In 2014, he received the Honorary Golden Bear at the Berlinale for his life’s work.