Magnum 62 : 1950s - 1960s, the expansion
© David Hurn /Magnum Photos
© Dennis Stock /Magnum Photos
© Eve Arnold /Magnum Photos
© Thomas Hoepker /Magnum Photos
© Bruce Davidson /Magnum Photos
© Josef Koudelka /Magnum Photos
© Inge Morath /Magnum Photos
© Raymond Depardon /Magnum Photos
© Werner Bischof /Magnum Photos
© Bruce Glinn /Magnum Photos
© Cornell Capa /Magnum Photos
© Rene Burri /Magnum Photos
© Costa Manos /Magnum Photos
© Eric Hartmann /Magnum Photos
© Fernando Scianna /Magnum Photos
© Paul Frusco /Magnum Photos
1950s and 1970s: The early years
Within five years after its foundation, Magnum has added many talented photographers to its books, such as Eve Arnold, Burt Glinn, Dennis Stock and Erich Hartmann.
Becoming a member of Magnum Photos has always been a long and rigorous process, one which takes at least four years. After submitting a portfolio, the existing Magnum Members vote for or against giving it a preliminary ‘Nominee’ status, which lasts for two years. Thereafter, a further, extended portfolio has to be submitted to become an ‘Associate’ for a further two year. After this point the photographer can apply for full membership in order to become a shareholder of the company and obtain voting rights.
The first member invited to join the agency after its foundation was the Swiss photographer Werner Bischof (born 1916) in 1949. Bischof worked for various major magazines and newspapers such as Life, Observer and Illustrated. However, due to his dislike of the superficiality and sensationalism of this business, he decided to pursue his own interests and devoted his photographic practice entirely to recording harmony, order and tranquillity. 1951 Bischof produced the image featured in Magnum 62, entitled Shinto Priests in the courtyard of the Meiji Temple, Tokyo, Japan’ during his travels through Japan.
‘The trees are quite exquisite in Japan. You know the poems that tell of the wind blowing through the trees and the leaves. In the centre of the capital, with its ever-increasing bustle, I have discovered some tree shapes of breath-taking beauty, and have drawn them for you. I cannot believe that these people will ever stop venerating nature, that a time will come when they no longer shelter trees and flowers in their houses as symbols of what is noble and pure.’ (Kristen Lubben (ed), Magnum Contact Sheets, London: Thames and Hudson, 2011, page 65)
In Bischof’s opinion this particular image, capturing the everyday routine of the monastic life, truly represents ‘his’ Japan.
Cornell Capa, Robert Capa’s brother, was also one of Magnum Photo’s early members, joining in 1954. After Robert Capa’s death in 1954, and David Seymore’s death in 1956, Cornell Capa acted as the agency’s president for four years, from 1956 until 1960.
‘One thing that Life and I agreed right from the start was that one war photographer was enough for my family; I was to be a photographer of peace.’ Cornell Capa
In this spirit, Cornell Capa is represented in Magnum 62 with his image Hebrew Lesson, Brooklyn, New York City, USA, 1955. Robert and Cornell Capa were born to Jewish parents and Cornell has remained close to his Jewish background throughout his life, exploring Jewish traditions through classic reportage. After four years of being Magnum’s leader, Capa went on to found New York City’s influential International Centre of Photography, where he dedicated his energy to this institution as its director.
Burt Glinn was elected Magnum’s president in 1972 and again in 1987. Born as Burton Samuel Glinn in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania in 1925, he worked for Life magazine before becoming a freelancer in 1950. Glinn was one of the first three Americans to join the agency and soon became known as one of Magnum’s great cooperate and advertising photographers and is featured in Magnum 62 with his image Elizabeth Taylor on the set of ‘Suddenly Last Summer’, Sagaro, Spain, 1959.
Marilyn Monroe, Studio Session, Hollywood, 1960 is the photograph featured in this exhibition by Magnum’s first female member, Eve Arnold, a pioneer of photojournalism. She became associated with the agency in 1951 and became a full member six years later. This photograph was taken on the set of John Huston’s 1961 film The Misfits, to the set of which Magnum sent Eve Arnold along with eight other of its photographers to document the film production. The German photographer Eric Hartmann was also selected to work on this documentation and his image Marilyn Monroe filming a scene from ‘The Misfits’, Hollywood, California, 1960 captures the three leading stars featured in this film. Eric Hartmann became a member of Magnum Photos in 1954 and was its president from 1985 until 1986. Inge Morath’s Marilyn Monroe and Arthur Miller in their suite in Reno’s Mapes Hotel after a day’s shooting, Nevada, USA, 1960 is another outcome of this assignment. Morath has worked as a researcher and editor for the agency from 1949 and became its first full female member in 1955.
1962 was the year Rene Burri, a full Magnum member since 1959 and an associate since 1955, opened the Magnum Gallery. Three years later he also participated in the creation of Magnum Films. Swiss-born Burri, who made contact with Magnum through fellow Swiss photographer Werner Bischof, was a master of poetic photography, playing with light and shade, and remains best known for his photographs of Che Guervara, one of which is featured in this exhibition. Burri was also elected to the chair of Magnum France in 1982.
The image featured in Magnum 62 of German photographer Thomas Hoepker, also depicts a celebrity – Muhammad Ali. It is these images of this world-famous boxer, as well as his more recent images of the 9/11 World Trade Center destruction, that he is best known for. Hoepker was born in Germany in 1936 and not only worked as a photographer for many major German magazines such as Münchner Illustrierte and Stern magazine but also as a cameraman, producer and as the director of photography for Stern and Geo. Hoepker became a full member of Magnum in 1989 and he also acted as its president from 2003 until 2006.
The photographs mentioned are only a small part of the images featured in Magnum 62 produced between 1950 and 1970, and really bring to light the photographers’ persistent curiosity about the world and their commitment cover the most diverse events – just as in the spirit of Henri Cartier-Bresson’s manifesto:
‘Magnum is a community of thought, a shared human quality, a curiosity about what is going on in the world, a respect for what is going on and a desire to transcribe it visually.”
This period only marked the first two decades of this unique photographic co-operative, which was to play an important role in the evolution of photography in the decades ahead.
To be continued.
By Anna-Maria Pfab
until 19 May 2012
Chris Beetles Fine Photography
3-5 Swallow Street
London W1B 4DE
Telephone: 020 7434 4319