In Our Time • Magnum Photos

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In Our Time

An exhibition of period prints from a pivotal age in photojournalism history is revived in London

Alex Webb Bombay, India. 1981. © Alex Webb | Magnum Photos

“For a photojournalist, the 1930s were the worst of times and the best of times. War raged in Europe and the Far East. And America moved inexorably toward its rendezvous with destiny. Against this somber backdrop, documentary photography entered its golden age. There were new picture magazines, new 35mm cameras, new Kodak films, and a new attitude in photojournalism,” wrote Raymond H. DeMoulin, the Vice President of the Eastman Kodak Company, who was instrumental in making possible the blockbuster photobook and exhibition In Our Time (1989).

Spanning a crucial period of the 20th century, it comprised some of Magnum’s most iconic and historical shots, from Robert Capa’s and Henri Cartier-Bresson’s World War II photography, to Eve Arnold’s Hollywood portraiture. Now, as Magnum continues to celebrate its 70th year, Magnum Photos revives the seminal exhibition in Magnum’s Print Room in London.

Henri Cartier-Bresson A young Belgian woman and former Gestapo informer, being identified as she tried to hide in the crowd at a transit camp located between the American and Soviet zones organised for refugees; politic (...)
Robert Capa © International Center of Photography Leon Trotsky lecturing. Copenhagen, Denmark. November 27, 1932. © Robert Capa © International Center of Photography | Magnum Photos
Dennis Stock Ernest Miller nicknamed Kid Punch Miller trumpet player and singer returning home at 6 am. New Orleans, Louisiana, USA. 1958. © Dennis Stock | Magnum Photos

Names synonymous with Magnum’s history, and the work that put them there, including photographs by Elliott Erwitt, Marc Riboud, Gilles PeressAlex Webb, Raymond Depardon, Harry Gruyaert, Dennis Stock, Burt Glinn, Bruno Barbey, Jean Gaumy, and more, are featured.

David Hurn Sheep shelter from the rain. Wales. 1973. Signed Archival Pigment Print, 20x24". Edition of 30. © David Hurn | Magnum Photos
Bruno Barbey More than three million people arrived from all over Egypt to attend the funeral of President Abdel Nasser at the Kubbeih Republican Palace. Egypt. 1970. © Bruno Barbey | Magnum Photos
Gilles Peress Demonstration in favor of the leading opposition figure Ayatollah Kazem Shariatmadari. Tabriz, Iran. 1980. © Gilles Peress | Magnum Photos
Elliott Erwitt North Carolina, USA. 1950. © Elliott Erwitt | Magnum Photos
Ian Berry Archbishop Desmond Tutu conducts a funeral service in a makeshift tent for a schoolgirl shot by the police. East Rand, Transvaal (Gauteng), South Africa. 1985. © Ian Berry | Magnum Photos
Rene Burri | Le Corbusier The painter, architect and city planner Le Corbusier in the 'Atelier 35 S'.On the left: a lithograph of his 'Modulor'. 7th arrondissement. 35, rue de Sèvres. Paris, France. 1959. © Rene Burri | Magnum Photos

“Magnum had its share of major scoops and stories, such as Robert Capa’s first look, uncensored, behind the Iron Curtain at the Soviet Union with the writer John Steinbeck, published originally in Ladies’ Home Journal (for which Capa, according to the Journal’s picture editor, John Morris, later executive director of Magnum, would be paid $20,000 to Steinbeck’s $3,000),” wrote Fred Ritchin, Dean of the School at ICP, on the early days of the agency, in the In Our Time book. “There was also Capa’s and Chim’s work in Israel; and Cartier-Bresson’s landmark 1948 coverage of India at the time of Ghandi’s assassination, and his work in China in 1949, the pivotal year when the Communists took control of the government, as well as his coverage of Indonesia’s independence and again the Soviet Union.”

Eve Arnold Marilyn Monroe during the filming of 'The Misfits'. USA. 1960. (c)Eve Arnold for AP © Eve Arnold | Magnum Photos

Following these initial pieces of ground-breaking photojournalism, the first new member, Werner Bischof, carried the torch as he reported from Japan, India and Korea; and George Rodger continued his relentless travelling, filing weekly stories Reportage from movie sets – such as a group of Magnum photographers commissioned to capture Marilyn Monroe and Clark Gable behind the scenes of The Misfits – alongside cultural commissions and collaborations with the most celebrated artists of the time and picture press assignments, quickly filled the Magnum roster’s time and archive.

“In those days a photographer had a significant advantage: large areas of the world had virtually never seen a photographer. One could choose to go almost anywhere one wanted, even without and assignment,” wrote Ritchin, chiming with what George Rodger said when he pointed out that this was because, in the early days, one could “take pictures of just about anything and the magazines were clamoring for it; the mistake was in thinking that it would continue.”

Hiroji Kubota Black Panthers protesting. Chicago, Illinois, USA. 1969. © Hiroji Kubota | Magnum Photos
Bruce Davidson Wales. 1965. © Bruce Davidson | Magnum Photos

Later on, as more photographers joined the ranks of the agency, and the photojournalism industry also moved on, the style and the subjects that Magnum photographers would turn their lenses to shifted. Their work incorporated more personal, authored perspectives, but all of them produced photographs that were representative of their time.

David Hurn photographed England and created a portrait of his native Wales; Bruce Davidson hung out with teenage gangs in Brooklyn. Leonard Freed published his document of the civil rights movement with Black and White America, Sergio Larrain was at home in Chile creating his seminal photographs of life on the streets, and Costa Manos undertook a journey that was as much about the discovery of his own heritage as it was reportage with his Greek Portfolio.

“Their interest in the fringes were accompanied by a desire to decrease the photographer’s estrangement from the nominally exotic, to begin to become more implicated in the lives of others,” wrote Ritchin.

Susan Meiselas Returning Backstage. Essex Junction. Vermont, USA. 1973. © Susan Meiselas | Magnum Photos
Marc Riboud After bathing in the Ganges. Bénarès, Uttar Pradesh, India. 1956. © Marc Riboud | Magnum Photos
Harry Gruyaert During the Ramadan. A normally very busy street deserted by citizens for the first meal of the day. Cairo, Egypt. 1987. © Harry Gruyaert | Magnum Photos

In revisiting this esteemed collection of works, Magnum Photos is making available a number of period prints from the original In Our Time collection, available to collectors through the Magnum Print Room gallery in London, or online via the Magnum Shop. All black and white prints are silver gelatin, all color are dye transfer. They are the original 1989 prints that were shown at the Hayward Gallery as part of the In our Time exhibition, which became one of the most successful photographic exhibitions of the last few decades and toured through fifteen countries world-wide.

Burt Glinn Nikita Khrushchev in front of the Lincoln Memorial. Washington D.C., USA. 1959. © Burt Glinn | Magnum Photos
Bruno Barbey Students hurling projectiles against the police on the Boulevard Saint Germain, in the 6th arrondissement. Paris, France. 1968. © Bruno Barbey | Magnum Photos