In 1947, during a toast over a celebratory magnum of champagne at the MOMA, four renowned photographers founded one of the most prestigious photo agencies. Since then over 92 photographers have contributed to Magnum, chronicling the world through their lens.
This Friday the International Center of Photography (ICP) is celebrating the agency’s history in an exhibition showcasing its contributions over the past 70 years. “Magnum Manifesto points to how vast the exploitable fields covered by the collection are. It offers a small reconstruction of the entire range of human experience and shows that Magnum is a world in itself.” said Clement Cheroux, the curator.
The gallery is broken up into three parts. The first part ranges from 1947 to 1968 and focuses on post war humanist ideals. The second part focuses in the years 1969 to 1989 and shows how photographers focused on subcultures, minorities, and outsiders. The last part focuses on the years 1990 to today on stories about endings and how Magnum photographers “continue to capture a world in flux and under threat.”
There will be a mix of collective presentations and individual stories. They will also be presenting documents and publications, such as newspapers, books, magazines, to show how pictures used to be presented when they were produced. “We want to show the many lives of these photographs and the various context in which they were presented” said Clara Bouveresse, photography historian. “We tried to raise the question of what is Magnum and how can we connect these various perspective.”
Magnum is international and is owned by is photographer-members. In 2015, the agency, known for only allowing one or two new members a year, added six photographers to begin the process of applying for full membership. Robert Capa, the co-founder of the agency would say “if your photographs aren’t good enough, you’re not close enough.”
Some of the most iconic photos came from Magnum photographers like, Henri Cartier-Bresson (co-founder), Elliott Erwitt, Martin Parr (current president), Stuart Franklin, Marc Riboud, Mary Ellen Mark, and more.
“As a photo historian, I think this anniversary is a great opportunity to offer a new perspective for the history of Magnum,” said Bouversee. “To reveal important documents that are very rarely presented to the public.”
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