Iconic Photos

Famous, Infamous and Iconic Photos

The Tank Man

with 38 comments



This is a picture that needs no caption. However, very few people know or care about the exact details of the events that transpired on June 5th, 1989. The day after Chinese troops expelled thousands of demonstrators from Tiananmen Square in Beijing (in a process that left thousands dead), the tanks returning from their mission at the Square were confronted with a lone rebel. The rebel’s identity is never revealed nor that of the commander in the lead tank who stopped.

The purely symbolic act was instantly captured on video and on cameras–whether the unknown rebel deliberated planned his protest in front of the Beijing Hotel where the press corps reside is also an equal mystery. As Time magazine wrote, “[He] may have impressed his image on the global memory more vividly, more intimately than even Sun Yat-sen did. Almost certainly he was seen in his moment of self-transcendence by more people than ever laid eyes on Winston Churchill, Albert Einstein and James Joyce combined.” Video clips aired on BBC and CNN and three photos (from to bottom by Jeff Widener, AP; Charlie Cole, Newsweek; and Stuart Franklin, Magnum and Time) made sure of that.

Originally, Iconic Photos wrote (until July 2012): Although Franklin’s picture had the best vantage, it was Widener who was nominated for the Pulitzer and Cole who won World Press Photo. Franklin had been disadvantaged because he worked for a private firm (Magnum) whereas Widener (AP) and Cole (Newsweek) worked for mainstream media.  For further clarification, see New York Times and Charlie Cole’s response.

There were a fourth and a fifth photographers on the scene too. Arthur Tsang Hin Wah of Reuters and Terril Jones, an AP reporter who accidentally captured the scene unknowingly from the ground level.

Written by Alex Selwyn-Holmes

April 22, 2009 at 6:55 pm

38 Responses

Subscribe to comments with RSS.

  1. [...] Bookdwarf added an interesting post today on The Tank ManHere’s a small reading…thousands of demonstrators from Tiananmen Square in Beijing (in a … In addition to creation of a culture icon–a modern day nameless, [...]

  2. [...] of a Soveit T-55 tank and tears his shirt open, ready to die. The photo, almost a sister image to the Tank Man photo that came out from Beijing 31 years later, was the iconic image of the Prague [...]

  3. I’ve seen this picture dozens of times and every time I get a little overcome; it’s one of the most powerful images I’ve ever seen


    January 7, 2010 at 8:44 am

  4. [...] photograph I found, however, does appeal to me. Apparently, there were three photos published. The photos I’ve seen apparently were cropped. This photo, by Stuart Franklin, provides [...]

  5. [...] of his first acts was to take a photo of his wife lifting her skirt and exposing her underwear on the Tiananmen Square.  The bloodied square is a regular, conscientious feature in his work. When he took pictures of [...]

  6. [...] of his first acts was to take a photo of his wife lifting her skirt and exposing her underwear on the Tiananmen Square.  The bloodied square is a regular, conscientious feature in his work. When he took pictures of [...]

  7. [...] and World Press put out a terrible quality, grainily-cropped picture of the Tank Man Moment (see here on my old post). It definitely was not representative of the actual image nor of Mr. Cole’s [...]

  8. I just couldn’t leave your site prior to suggesting that I really enjoyed the usual info an individual supply on your guests? Is going to be again regularly to investigate cross-check new posts

    Red Wodell

    July 16, 2012 at 1:17 pm

  9. It’s very effortless to find out any matter on net as compared to textbooks, as I found this paragraph at this web page.


    August 2, 2012 at 4:41 pm

  10. Hey! Would you mind if I share your blog with my zynga group?
    There’s a lot of people that I think would really enjoy your content. Please let me know. Thanks Check out my website to get more info about work from home, if you like.

    making money online

    August 6, 2012 at 3:33 pm

  11. This is pretty cool. That’s give me an idea.

    Nena Cassens

    August 15, 2012 at 12:30 pm

  12. [...] In hexagram 49 the change as one rises up the lines begins with talk of revolution, at first just gossip and wishes. No-one can afford to commit themselves to change on that scale on the strength of mere words. They need a human leader to emerge. The call for revolution grows stronger, the leader has not emerged but people feel safer voicing their objection to the current regime, as it feels like a growing current. Then, in the fifth line, the tiger appears. This is a person who suddenly outwardly appears from nowhere with an incredibly strong action, drawing the winds or scatterblown peoples all about him in support. It is entirely an inner change that has permitted this. This person has ‘changed like a tiger’, much as did King Wu when he attacked and brought down the tyrannical Shang dynasty. The man who stopped the column of tanks on Beijing’s Chang’an Boulevard (Avenue of Eternal Peace) near Tiananmen Square on June 5 1989 is a good example of a person who ‘changed like a tiger’, squaring off to the full force of state yang while still holding his shopping. [...]

  13. […] of a former Chinese prime minister in one of the photos taken on the square. In 2009, I covered various versions of the Tank Man photos. In between, we saw the defacing of the Mao portrait during the protests and a defiant Ai Wei Wei. […]

  14. Write more, thats all I have to say. Literally, it seems as though you relied on the video to make your point.
    You clearly know what youre talking about, why waste your intelligence on just posting videos to your blog when
    you could be giving us something enlightening to read?

    keygen dark souls

    June 9, 2013 at 5:23 am

  15. 私は & rsquoll認めるそれ: 私は &
    rsquove決してされて、巨大な古着小売業者買い物客。選択メッセン ジャー バッグ、バックパックまたはノート
    ・ ワイズマン。彼の親戚と彼本当に好きこと再生バドミントンが、彼はいない構築、ダイムそれを。データベースを管理することですどのように彼はする傾向がありますお金。彼ホーム今デラウェア州であり、彼ママとパパ住む近くに。確認してくださいインター
    ネット サイトここに記載されて:

    プラダ 財布

    June 19, 2013 at 8:52 am

  16. 場合、犬が毛穴や皮膚困難が選択あなたのためにそこ。さらに調査する必要がありますが実施が科学的研究として有望であります。かなり数映画開催されるお祭り近くに、グローブ。理想的ながあるに熱、フィートの
    devoidを犠牲にモデルとクラス、高品質。 – トリーバーチ 財布

  17. Excellent article! We will be linking to this particularly great post on our website.
    Keep up the great writing.

  18. Consequently I am able to utilize the Neteller services to help down payment finances
    within my Onbling accounts. For that earlier 1 week I am taking part in
    in 50 hand time periods and review the participate in towards the end on the session.


    July 2, 2013 at 2:12 am

  19. You made some good points there. I looked on the net
    for additional information about the issue and found most individuals will go along with your views on
    this website.

    silver oak casino

    July 2, 2013 at 3:30 pm

  20. I am really loving the theme/design of your
    site. Do you ever run into any browser compatibility problems?
    A number of my blog readers have complained about my blog not working correctly in Explorer but looks great in Chrome.
    Do you have any ideas to help fix this issue?

    bradley propane smoker

    July 14, 2013 at 4:46 am

  21. Opera was originally developed in 1994 by the Norwegian company
    Telenor. Most of bookmarking soft wares have 50-150 web-sites in database but not all of them have function to add
    new sites. Once I sign in 12 VPN, and pick the city I want (usually Newark), I’m assigned a new IP address and can surf as I would normally (outside the Great Firewall).

    web browsers

    July 15, 2013 at 6:48 pm

  22. Narrow blood vessels lie alongside the intestines of the earthworm and they
    absorb the nutrients from the alimentary canal feeding the rest
    of the body. Brazenhead is a great place to go with your
    family or for a business lunch or dinner, but if you are
    looking for a party atmosphere, this isn’t it. The decline of the East side blues scene was disheartening, but, it also gave rise to the need for a fresh start, which came in the form of the next blues-only venue, Antone’s, founded by the late Clifford Antone, during the summer of 1975.

    best pub quiz names

    July 16, 2013 at 12:09 pm

  23. This testing helps to find out the employees that abuse drugs and thereby improves safety at workplace.
    These can leave traces in a person’s mouth for up to 13 days. Drug testing teens is what a caring parent does to know whether or not their child needs help.

    Drug Test Friend

    July 19, 2013 at 9:01 pm

  24. Wow, this article is pleasant, my younger sister is analyzing these kinds of things, so I am
    going to inform her.


    July 20, 2013 at 12:53 am

  25. クロス購入 [プラダ スカル] http://www.paralinternal.info/

    [プラダ スカル]

    September 26, 2013 at 12:12 am

  26. I like the helpful info you provide in your articles.
    I will bookmark your weblog and check again here frequently.
    I’m quite sure I will learn a lot of new stuff right here!

    Best of luck for the next!


    November 18, 2013 at 5:49 pm

  27. Once we introduced our team, to not waste you time, we’ll go
    through our products and accompanying services. The primary product of our site designer company is obviously website style.

    ny web design in new york

    February 4, 2014 at 2:48 am

  28. qw
    It is perfect time to make a few plans for the longer term and it is time to be
    happy. I have learn this submit and if I could I
    want to recommend you some fascinating issues or tips. Maybe you
    can write subsequent articles regarding this article.
    I want to read even more things approximately it!


    March 2, 2014 at 3:50 pm

  29. Thanks so much for another post. I’m happy to be able to get that
    kind of information.

  30. Excellent post! Keep writing.

    best acne treatment

    April 14, 2014 at 2:56 pm

  31. I blog quite often and I really appreciate your information.
    This article has really peaked my interest.
    I will take a note of your site and keep checking for new information about once a week.
    I subscribed to your RSS feed too.

  32. Useful information. Lucky me I found your web site by chance, and I’m shocked why this accident did
    not took place in advance! I bookmarked it.


    April 16, 2014 at 9:03 pm

  33. Thanks to the websites that gives the service at no cost,
    we will get to watch TV live and fulfill our longing for video entertainment without limits.
    Ray was on deck of HMS Dorsetshire, the ship that fired the final 2 torpedoes that sunk
    the Bismarck, and could watch the torpedoes within the water
    along with the final sinking in the Bismarck. However,
    they disappeared available on the market
    for their diminished demand; however they’re again getting
    popular with a big swing and are avalable in lots of latest modern styles.

  34. Do yoս have any viԀeo oof that? I’ɗ want to
    find ߋut some additional information.

  35. This is a good tip particularly to those new to the blogosphere.
    Short but very accurate information… Thanks for sharing this one.
    A must read article!


    May 19, 2014 at 3:44 pm

  36. […] of a former Chinese prime minister in one of the photos taken on the square. In 2009, I covered various versions of the Tank Man photos. In between, we saw the defacing of the Mao portrait during the protests and a defiant Ai Wei […]

  37. It’s impressive that you are getting thoughts from this piece of
    writing as well as from our argument made at this place.

    click to read

    June 11, 2014 at 12:43 am

  38. Observers maintain the item displays a new coherent approach, one thing thus low in your culture,
    that it’s not necessarily realised by simply all. * Let you know there
    are things you can do to improve y0ur ranking.
    You need to make your potential customers aware
    of your products and services to ensure that they recognize them as valid
    solutions to their everyday problems.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 4,541 other followers

%d bloggers like this: