The signature styles of Magnum's photographers and their commitment to documenting the world have brought each of them individual acclaim. But it is their collective and its archive with its wealth of iconic images that have guaranteed their influence on Twentieth and early Twenty-First Century visual culture.
As digital technology replaces analogue, in both the taking and distribution of photographic work, the physical print archive, once at the heart of Magnum‟s business, has taken on a new role as resource for education and exhibition. Subsequently, the market value of the photographic print as „object‟ as well as image, grows.
The Magnum Mark sets out to celebrate the legacy of Magnum's print archive, uncovering the processes behind traditional, manual image dissemination. Included in the exhibition are previously unseen “press” prints featuring the work of Magnum‟s founding member, George Rodger, recreating one of Magnum‟s original distribution sets and including some of the magazines in which the work was first shown. A graphic panel translates the meaning of the mysterious marks and stamps on the back of Magnum‟s vintage press distribution prints and a selection of print maps, produced by Magnum‟s in-house printer, illustrate the craft involved in printing Magnum‟s famous photographs.
In 1947, the same year Magnum was founded, George Rodger began travelling throughout Africa, documenting the communities he encountered along the way. Writing his own vignettes to accompany his photographic stories, Rodger often focused on athletic events, tribal ceremonies and dances. Copies of these texts were distributed to the Magnum offices along with his contact sheets and caption information, which was subsequently forwarded to clients for consideration and publication. Within his contact sheets from this period is his now-iconic image of a victorious Nuba wrestler, taken for a 1949 story of the Nuba tribe of Kordofan, Sudan. A selection of the original distribution prints and caption sheets, along with a contact sheet are included.
The darkroom “print maps” feature popular photographs of James Dean by Dennis Stock, Marilyn Monroe and Arthur Miller by Inge Morath, Sofia Loren by David „Chim‟ Seymour and Sammy Davis Jr. by Burt Glinn. The process of printing a photograph as a final „object‟ is a labour of love for most photographers. Magnum‟s New York office contains the last operational darkroom within the agency and the examples included here are the work of Magnum‟s printer, Pablo Inirio. Instructed by the photographers, he produces a rule-book or „map‟ for himself, outlining the various areas to dodge or to burn and making note of the exposure times for each to achieve the desired effect. These maps show the difference between a „straight‟ print made using one exposure and the final master print, the product of numerous exposures of varying length over different areas of the image.
In addition to examining the processes behind Magnum‟s traditional image distribution, the exhibition includes a small selection of some of agency‟s greatest known images; the controversial „Falling Soldier‟ by Robert Capa, Marilyn Monroe on the set of the Misfits by Eve Arnold, a student defying tanks in Tiananmen Square by Stuart Franklin, and Thomas Hoepker‟s image of September 11th.
First shown at the Flag Art Foundation, New York, in June 2010, The Magnum Mark was originated by Magnum New York with the support of the Magnum Foundation.
When & Where:
November 24, 2010 - February 26, 2011
Magnum Print Room
63 Gee Street
London EC1V 3RS
Phone: 020 7490 1771