Magnum Photos, the celebrated photojournalism cooperative founded in 1947 by Robert Capa, Henri Cartier-Bresson, David “Chim” Seymour and George Rodger, returned to its Parisian Left Bank roots last week: It opened a new gallery steps off the Boulevard Saint-Germain-des-Pres, just around the corner from Café de Flore and Brasserie Lipp.
The first exhibit showcases works by photographers who joined the exclusive collective after 2000, along with some vintage works. And while Magnum photographers have always produced photos with a social comment, the newer pieces are rawer, more powerful, in the same way that much journalism these days has grown more opinionated.
Click Image to View Our Gallery of Magnum “Demain/Hier”
Fittingly, the show was curated by Robert Delpire, a man who has ceaselessly campaigned to popularize the medium—starting avant-garde photo magazines like Neuf and L’Oeil, creating the legendary Photo-Poche series of pocket books devoted to photography, mounting dozens of exhibitions in his own galleries and more as the longtime head of France’s National Center of Photography. It was Delpire who first published Robert Frank’s landmark Les Americains in 1958.
“I wanted to call [the new show] ‘ ’ [tomorrow/yesterday],” says Delpire, now in his eighties. “I made a choice of prints in order to present some of the ‘young’ photographers, the photographers of the future, and we will project some slides to remember the founders.” Among those he chose from the new generation are Alessandra Sanguinetti, Trent Parke, Mark Power, and Cristina Garcia Rodero.
• Art Beast: The Best of Art, Photography, and DesignAs they travel the world capturing the world’s events, peoples and issues, Magnum members—who share decision-making, responsibilities and revenue—are contending with the decline in newspapers and magazines, once their key markets. They’ve diversified to other media, cultural and corporate organizations, and governmental institutions.
The gallery at 13, rue de l’Abbaye, is partly meant to ensure that Magnum photos remain “a reference point”—that the public knows the work, and even the personalities, of its 80 members. Designed to attract passers-by with one huge image in the front window, which will be changed regularly, it will also display rare and collectible items on the back wall, along with the principal exhibition.
Magnum wants visitors to look, linger, buy and eventually perhaps even sip Champagne. The choice of its name, after all, had everything to do with the founders’ serious affinity for champers.
Judith H. Dobrzynski, formerly a reporter and a senior editor at The New York Times and at BusinessWeek, as well as a senior executive at CNBC, is a writer based in New York. She blogs about the arts at www.artsjournal.com/realcleararts.