David Douglas Duncan

David Douglas Duncan

1916 – 2018


Born in Kansas City, Missouri, David Douglas Duncan attended the University of Arizona, where he studied archaeology. He eventually continued his education at the University of Miami, where his interest in photojournalism began in earnest as picture editor and photographer of the university paper. After college, Duncan began to freelance, selling his work to journals such as The Kansas City Star, LIFE and the National Geographic Magazine. After the attack on Pearl Harbor, he joined the Marine Corps, earned an officer’s commission, and became a combat photographer. He covered the Battle of Okinawa, and was on board the USS Missouri for the Japanese surrender. After the war, he was hired by LIFE magazine, for which he took some of the most well known photographs of the Korean War. Aside from his combat photographs, Duncan is known for his photographs of Pablo Picasso, to whom he had been introduced by fellow photographer Robert Capa. He published seven books of photographs on Picasso and was the only person allowed to photograph many of Picasso’s private paintings. Duncan died in June 2018 in Grasse, France, at the age of 102.


  • David Douglas Duncan was inducted into the International Photography Hall of Fame at a ceremony October 29th, 2021.


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Below: David Douglas Duncan, Picasso in bathtub, Villa La Californie, Cannes, 8 February , 1956
Right: David Douglas Duncan, Pfc. John L. Lewis decorates his helmet with good luck tokens. [Khe Sanh, February 1968.] David Douglas Duncan Papers and Photography Collection © David Douglas Duncan. Courtesy Harry Ransom Center.