“Radical Transformation: Magnum Photos into the Digital Age,” an exhibition that opens Sept. 10 at the Harry Ransom Center, explores the evolution of Magnum Photos from print journalism to the digital age.
Magnum Photos was founded during the era of Life magazine. Before television, in the mid-1940s, big picture magazines were a keystone of mass communications, and readers marveled over images of war and Hollywood and Americana.
But while photographers on assignment customarily submitted their film to editors who used the photographs to illustrate pre-determined story concepts, the founders of Magnum wished to be central to the editorial process rather than serving the vision of the magazines.
In 1947 renowned photographers Robert Capa, Henri Cartier-Bresson, David “Chim” Seymour and George Rodger created Magnum to enable photographers to explore the world on their own terms, developing and marketing their own photo stories, while owning the rights and controlling the use of their own images. Operating within this new model, Magnum photographers witnessed and interpreted many of the defining moments of the 20th century.
Drawn from the vast collection of prints from the agency’s New York bureau, the exhibition features more than 300 items, including photographic prints from the collection that was placed on deposit at the Harry Ransom Center in 2009.
A selection of contact sheets, magazine tear sheets and books in the exhibition will trace the working habits and expanding vision of these photographers as they move from image capture to publication, and a sampling of Magnum Photos’ multimedia projects will examine new paths for the future of the agency.
“Going deep into the expansive Magnum Photos collection at the Ransom Center allows us to place iconic photographs in context, exploring the ways in which Magnum images have historically circulated in newspapers and magazines, in movie theaters and art galleries, and now through multimedia platforms,” says Jessica McDonald, Nancy Inman and Marlene Nathan Meyerson Curator of Photography and co-curator of the exhibition.
“Radical Transformation: Magnum Photos into the Digital Age” will be on view in the Ransom Center Galleries on Tuesdays through Fridays until Jan. 5, 2014, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., with extended Thursday hours until 7 p.m. On Saturdays and Sundays the galleries are open from noon to 5 p.m. The galleries are closed on Mondays.