February 26 - August 2, 2015
“Magnum - Contact Sheets” is a major exhibition that takes the contact sheet as the basis for exploring the creative process behind some of the world’s most iconic photographs from the Magnum Photos agency. The exhibition gives audiences remarkable access and insight into the decision-making processes of many of Magnum’s famous members through the inclusion of first-person accounts. With the development of digital technologies and their huge impact on photographic production, this exploration of photography’s analogue period sets out to both investigate and celebrate a technique that is becoming increasingly historic; to provide an “epitaph”, in the words of Martin Parr.
A contact print is obtained by exposing an image or a set of images against a single sheet of photographic paper of the same size as the negative. Often compared to an artist’s sketchbook, contact sheets are the photographer’s first look at what he or she has captured on the film roll. Because contact sheets provide raw images of the photographs, without any interventions in the process, they offer the artist an opportunity for self-criticism and making a choice. In this sense, looking at contact sheets is like entering the photographer’s private area of work, which he or she keeps secret. On the other hand, by showing us the before and after of the unique scene selected by the photographer, they enable us to witness how that moment came to be. They give the viewer a sense of walking alongside the photographer and seeing through their eyesas they capture the scene. Contact sheets give clues as to the artist’s working process, the way they approach the subject matter and the extent to which the selected snapshot reflects reality.
Shedding light on the behind the scenes process of Magnum photographers, the exhibition reproduces work from over seventy years of visual history, including the D-Day landings by Robert Capa, the 1968 Paris riots by Bruno Barbey, Stuart Franklin’s Tiananmen Square, the Vietnam war by Philip Jones Griffiths and 9/11 by Thomas Hoepker. It showcases iconic portraiture of political figures, actors, artists and musicians, from Che Guevara and Malcolm X, to Miles Davies and The Beatles. Contact sheets and photographs are accompanied by close-up details, articles, books and magazine spreads.
New York, USA, 2001
© Thomas Hoepker / Magnum Photos
New York, USA, 1948
© Philippe Halsman / Magnum Photos
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With The Contributions Of