Magnum 62, : the young generation
© Antoine D'Agata /Magnum Photos
© Eli Reed /Magnum Photos
© Harry Gruyaert /Magnum Photos
© Paolo Pellegrin /Magnum Photos
© Carl de Keyzer /Magnum Photos
© Alessandra Sanguinetti /Magnum Photos
© Michael Subotzky /Magnum Photos
© Thomas Dworzak /Magnum Photos
© Jonas Bendiksen /Magnum Photos
© Alex Majoli /Magnum Photos
© Chien-ChiChang /Magnum Photos
© Alec Soth /Magnum Photos
© Bruce Gilden /Magnum Photos
© Chris Anderson /Magnum Photos
© David Alan Harvey /Magnum Photos
© John Vink /Magnum Photos
© Gueorgui Pinkhassov /Magnum Photos
© Martine Frank /Magnum Photos
© Trent Parke /Magnum Photos
© Bruno Barbey /Magnum Photos
© Mark Power /Magnum Photos
1990 – 2012: The Young Generation
In more recent decades, the photographers of the Magnum agency have been faced with many changes and challenges in the professional and technical sphere of photography. Magnum was founded on ideals of copyright but today, with the impact of digital imaging, popular understanding of an image’s value has changed. Magnum Photographers have started to adapt, using digital technologies to create their imagery. One such example is Belgium-born photographer Harry Gruyaert, who has been a full Magnum member since 1986. Gruyaert has recently started to abandon the Cibachrome process, which he used to record the subtle chromatic vibrations of Eastern and Western light, in favour of digital technology, which seem to offer him new possibilities. In the photograph Han River, Seoul, South Korea, 2007, which features the river’s surrounding land, the highly saturated colours nearly take on an almost dream-like quality.
Magnum Photos had to adapt as the world and business of photography began to change. As already mentioned, assignment photography decreased tremendously and photographers therefore had to look at alternative ways to fund their projects and to get their work disseminated – photographers now double as both producers and consumers of photography. Often they find more money in print sales and exhibitions rather than from licensing and assignments. This, obviously, had a direct impact on the photographic co-op of Magnum Photos itself and the agency successfully started to transform the way in which it was working. The Magnum Gallery was opened in Paris in 1982. Bruno Barbey - who became a full Magnum member in 1968, serving as its European vice-president from 1992 until 1995 and as the President of Magnum International in 1992 - helped to establish the gallery. This Moroccan-born photographer is especially well known for his harmonious use of colour that has been inspired by his childhood in Morocco – a country to which he returns regularly. Barbey, featured in Magnum 62 with his photograph Courtyard of the Zayouiza, Fez, Morocco, 1993, rejects the label ‘war photographer’ but has covered countless wars and conflict zones during his five-decade career.
Magnum Photos also needed to find other ways of disseminating its member’s images and they have increasingly focused on publishing books, producing commercials, as well as organising lectures and exhibitions around the globe. Earlier this year an exhibition entitled Magnum Contact Sheets was produced in conjunction with the release of a book with the same name, by Thames & Hudson. The exhibition was first shown in the Magnum Print Room in London and featured early and original contact sheets by Magnum Photographers. The exhibition then started to travel the globe and is currently on display at the International Centre for Photography in New York.
Paris’ Magnum Gallery has been dedicated to showcasing the work of Magnum photographers, especially the younger generation, ever since its foundation. In the previous three years, they have displayed the photographs of Inge Morath, Jim Goldberg, Thomas Dworzak and Alessandra Sanguinetti. Its last exhibition, entitled Unique Books / Maquettes, showcased book dummies from Magnum Photographers Abbas, Alec Soth, Bruce Gilden, David Alan Harvey, Donovan Wylie, Harry Gruyaert, Jim Goldberg, Josef Koudelka, Larry Towell, Marc Riboud, Patrick Zackmann and Thomas Dworzak.
Alec Soth, a well-known American photographer born in 1969, whose work is deeply indebted to that of the great American photographers such as Robert Frank, Walker Evans and Stephen Shore, is one fine example of this new breed of photographers. Soth’s work is not only represented in many major public and private collections (including numerous solo and group shows including the 2004 Whitney Biennial and a career survey at the Jeu de Paume in Paris in 2008) but has also been published in various books such as Sleeping by the Mississippi, Niagara and Broken Manual. Another example is British photographer Mark Power, who is represented in this exhibition with his image Shipyard, Gdasnk, Poland, November, 2004. The photograph belongs to a bigger series of photographs taken in Poland and has recently been published by Photoworks in Power’s monograph The Sound of Two Songs. Power, however, also acts as a senior lecturer in photography at the University of Brighton to support himself. His work is held in numerous collections and has been shown in various solo and group shows across the world.
In 2004, Magnum in Motion has been founded in New York, which is the multimedia digital studio of Magnum Photos. This multimedia offshoot of Magnum Photos is a library of short web documentary, photo essays, video podcasts and other digital media, which draw upon the Magnum Photographers’ archives. The viewer is able to watch Thomas Dworzak’s video essay Free Nowroooz or watch Christopher Anderson’s video podcast Capitolio. Also to be found on the Magnum Photos website is its online store which specialises in out of print, rare, and signed photo books, as well as print sales.
Magnum Photos has successfully adapted to the photographic world’s changes since its creation in 1947. In the present day, Magnum Photographers have shown that simply reporting an issue is not sufficient and the task of deciding what one can or cannot explain is more complex than ever. Robert Capa said that ‘if your pictures aren’t good enough you may be too close rather than not close enough’ and this is certainly true in today’s ‘information age – one only succeeds once the reader has enjoined (?) to enter the quest for meaning. However, Magnum Photos, with its diverse and prickly personalities, has proven its ability to adapt to new circumstances and has taken on an exceptional and unique position in the world of photography – or, to quote Cartier-Bresson: ‘Vive la revolution permanente.’
Magnum 62 will be on display until 19 May 2012 at Chris Beetles Fine Photographs. Chris Beetles Fine Photographs, which is fast becoming one of London’s most important venues for 20th century photography, exhibits a wide range of material, often accompanied by scholarly and erudite catalogues.
By Anna-Maria Pfab
until 19 May 2012
Chris Beetles Fine Photography
3-5 Swallow Street
London W1B 4DE
Telephone: 020 7434 4319