This Earth Day, Magnum releases a special collection of contemporary posters and fine prints celebrating the enduring importance of trees
All over the world, trees can be found that are thousands of years old. The first tree sprung up around 385 million years ago, and its continued propagation has meant the existence of humankind. The tree has provided clean air, sustenance, fuel, and shade for centuries. Over time, it has become a symbol of connectedness for many cultures; its roots symbolize connections and its branches illustrate familial ties. As Raghu Rai observes, it lends itself to the imagination. In the introduction to Trees, he writes, “I want to rise, overnight into a tree. And why not — even if it won’t last, at least my dreams will keep growing.”
However, environmental disasters and rapid deforestation at the hand of man have meant a sharp decline in tree populations. Stuart Franklin photographs the unfolding disaster in his book, The Time of Trees. His images of wilderness, forest activism and dramatic tree felling, all examine humanity’s imbalanced consumption of natural resources. Franklin calls for us to “celebrate trees,” he writes, “Not simply for their aesthetic value, but for the many and varied ways in which they enhance our world.” The Earth day initiative shares Franklin’s sentiment and aims to bring ecological awareness to areas that most need reforestation and promote the preservation of our natural heritage.
From Florida’s iconic beachfront palms as photographed by Rene Burri, to the overhanging branches of Central Park’s large pond in Bruce Davison’s image, and Trent Parke’s shots of possum nightlife in amongst the forests of Australia, the tree has often cropped up in the work of Magnum photographers. In celebration of Earth Day, Magnum shares a selection of images featuring trees from the archive, alongside a special collection of posters and fine prints to be launched on the Magnum shop. The photographs illustrate the way in which forests and trees have taken root in all corners of the earth, and ultimately, our collective consciousness.
Shop the collection here.