Obsessions: The Magnum Square Print Sale

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Past Square Print Sale

Obsessions: The Magnum Square Print Sale

Magnum photographers and estates explore the idea of obsession through 85 signed or estate-stamped 6x6" prints available for $100, for 5 days only

Larry Towell Mennonites. Capulín, Chihuahua, Mexico. 1996.“I documented the lives of Old Colony Mennonites migrating as farm workers between Ontario, Canada, and the two dozen or more colonies in Mexico from (...)

“Obsession is usually viewed as something negative… but obsession can also be intensely positive, moving us toward a place or a set of ideals…” Matt Black’s thoughts, taken from the caption to his Square Print, hint at the diversity of feeling toward not only obsessions, but the nature of obsession itself. Jerome Sessini’s caption suggests that photography is an obsession: “A stubborn and desperate attempt to find something that could be lost before even knowing it exists.” And so it is perhaps the practice, the pursuit of the unknown, and the fear of missing an irreplaceable shot that drives many. Ferdinando Scianna alludes to this never-ending pursuit of fleeting moments, “[A] spectacle, elucidating the transience of things. Perhaps the greatest of obsessions.”

Obsession is the theme for the June 2019 Magnum Square Print Sale, which runs from June 10 to June 14, 2019. For these five days, 85 museum-quality, signed or estate-stamped prints, from Magnum photographers are on sale for $100 each.

Given Magnum Photos’ more than 70 years of primacy in the field of engaged photography – decades over which it has maintained its founding ideals of bringing together journalists, artists, and longform storytellers into one creative group – this theme unsurprisingly offers fertile ground for the collective’s photographers and estates to react to in scouring their archives for their chosen images.

For five days only, the images included in ‘Obsessions’ will be available as signed, or estate-stamped, 6×6″ prints, exclusively on the Magnum Shop. The full selection of images, along with their explanatory captions, can be seen in the slideshow below.

A. Abbas Film director Abbas Kiarostami on the hills surrounding the capital. Iran, Tehran. 1997.""I have to see everything all the time and, even with my eye in the viewfinder, I have to be aware of any (...)
Antoine d’ Agata Eclipse. Tbilisi, Georgia. 2009.“Endless waking, anesthesia of the senses, a pure state of presence inside the world. Incurable cycle of survival. Existence reduced to the function of absorption (...)
Peter van Agtmael Late night. Miami, Florida, USA. 2014.“Obsession is the undercurrent of what makes me tick as a photographer. It’s the force that had me standing in the darkness trying to take the perfect pict (...)
Micha Bar-Am Yotvata Hai-Bar Nature Reserve. Israel. 1978.“During a family outing in the desert we stopped at the ‘Hai-Bar’–a reserve for biblical animals.The curiosity and ‘obsession’ about getting acqua (...)
Christopher Anderson Pia with balloon in Gràcia. Barcelona, Spain. 2016.“I chose this image because I notice a couple of my obsessions in it. The first, most obviously, is my obsession with photographing my family. (...)
Eve Arnold A mother holds her child's hand; a baby’s first five minutes. Port Jefferson, Long Island, New York. 1959."I realize now that through my work these past twenty-five years I have been searching f (...)
Olivia Arthur Birds over the Bosporus. Istanbul, Turkey. 2006.“At some point I became obsessed with stories about women and the way society sees and treats them. This journey started in Istanbul, with my frie (...)
Bruno Barbey A boy plays in the Rivière des Galets. Réunion. 1991.“When traveling and photographing, you have to establish human contact while remaining discreet. Luck sometimes plays a role too. This boy w (...)
Jonas Bendiksen Gagra beach at dusk. Abkhazia, Georgia. 2005.“I’m not really all that interested in photography itself. What I’m passionate about is what you can DO with photography. What societal, psychologic (...)
Ian Berry A sunny Sunday afternoon brings tourists and residents to the hill overlooking Whitby harbor to relax and dream. Whitby, England. 1974.“Long before Brexit, in simpler times, I took this photogra (...)
Werner Bischof Photomontage. Zurich, Switzerland. 1941."Werner Bischof … thinks and works from the start in photographic terms. He uses the graphic elements of photography to suit his ends, which are the cryst (...)
Matt Black Snowstorm. Madawaska, Maine, USA. 2019.“Obsession is usually viewed as something negative: a fixation that imposes itself on a person and creates a helplessness before it. But obsession can als (...)
Miguel Rio Branco The lion and the lioness. Quitandinha, Petrópolis, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. 1992.“I can’t really say that red for me is an obsession, but it does catch my eye andappears quite often in my work (...)
Rene Burri Stable, horse, pool and house planned by architect Luis Barragán. Cuadra San Cristóbal, Mexico. 1976.“René Burri’s personal tribute to the spirit of Luis Barragán.”- Clotilde Burri Blanc, wife (...)
Enri Canaj Ghanaian migrant at his apartment in Castel Volturno. Italy. July 2018.“Obsession: A particular moment when you disconnect from everything else to meet yourself. Traveling alone with the real y (...)
Cornell Capa © International Center of Photography Marilyn Monroe photographed by Cornell Capa during the filming of The Misfits. Nevada, USA. 1960."Our obsession isn't going to stop for a long time yet. . . . There is no one remotely close to M (...)
Robert Capa © International Center of Photography American soldier. El Guettar, Tunisia. March 1943.“It is not easy to be in such a place and not be able to do anything except record the suffering that others must endure.”- Robert Capa, in (...)
Chien-Chi Chang Chaungtha Beach, popular for locals as well as foreign tourists. Myanmar. February 19, 2010.“Of all human obsessions, one of the strongest, purest and most universal is chasing a ball—or watchi (...)
Ernest Cole Forbidden Love: two men kissing in the entrance to a subway station in Manhattan at the time of the Stonewall riots. New York City, USA. 1969-1970.“Ernest Cole's work in South Africa during the (...)
Raymond Depardon Grant Park, Chicago. August 1968.“It is the Democratic Convention, the crowd invades the park There is a feeling of festivity above all directed toward protesting the Vietnam War. A young wom (...)
Bieke Depoorter Agata. Neuilly-Plaisance, France. September 4, 2018.“This photo is part of my ongoing collaborative series, ‘Agata,’ in which Agata and I explore the complexities of the photographic enterprise (...)
Carolyn Drake Door to Hell. Darvaza, Turkmenistan. 2009.“The enigmatic qualities of photography are a continuing obsession in my work. I made this picture while working on my Two Rivers project in Central Asi (...)
Thomas Dworzak Shells and ammunition in the World War One Memorial Museum Passchendaele 1917. Passchendaele, Belgium. 2013.“Since my teenage years, I wanted to go to war. Photograph war. Bits of back and forth (...)
Nikos Economopoulos Havana, Cuba. 2017.“My obsession, the one thing I keep returning to, is the genuine flow of emotions and the patterns of human connectivity that play out in the streets: The ways in which differe (...)
Elliott Erwitt New York City, USA. 2000.

“I am obsessed with dogs—because they remind me of people but with more hair.”

- Elliott Erwitt © Elliott Erwitt | Magnum Photos
Stuart Franklin Forest Research Institute Malaysia. Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. 1996.“Obsession for me begins with walking amongst trees. I am drawn to them as friends during my travels to the farthest corners of (...)
Leonard Freed Office party. New York City, USA. 1966.“‘Photography is like life.’ [Leonard] Freed once observed. ‘What does it all mean? I don’t know–but you get an impression, a feeling … an impression of w (...)
Paul Fusco Robert Kennedy funeral train. USA. 1968.""Although I made this image early in my career, it remains a reflection of my desire to champion the underdog. The woman in the field is sending off Bobb (...)
Jean Gaumy Former greenhouse at the Daneborg Station. Northeast Greenland (74°18’N – 20°14’ W). 2016.“Obsession ?The shack, the cocoon, the incisive black and whiteThe obsession of closed places (...)
Bruce Gilden New York City, USA. 1977.“This man and his cigar caught my eye on the streets of New York. My obsession with cigars stemmed from my father, a mafia type, who wore hats, had pinky rings, and smok (...)
Burt Glinn Elizabeth Taylor on the set of Suddenly Last Summer. Sagaro, Spain. 1959.“For as long as Burt was on the set of Suddenly, Last Summer (1959) the entirety of the production, he was enraptured. Gi (...)
Jim Goldberg Bus Stop, D965. Eastern Anatolia, Turkey. 1990.“During my honeymoon in Turkey, I opted for public transportation to get around. I remember pulling over, seemingly in the middle of nowhere, at th (...)
Philip Jones Griffiths The Beatles. England. 1963.“Philip was studying pharmacy in Liverpool in the 1960s when The Beatles formed. Liverpool at this time was an exciting place for young creative types. It became a hub (...)
Harry Gruyaert A lounge at Charles de Gaulle Airport. Paris, France. 1985.“I have always been fascinated by airports. They are visually interesting places where thousands of people converge and mingle night an (...)
Gregory Halpern Buffalo, NY, USA. 2011.“I am endlessly intrigued by the landscape of Buffalo, New York, where I grew up. As a kid, I picked up a camera in response to the look and feel of the place. The first t (...)
Philippe Halsman Salvador Dali and rhino. New York City, USA. 1956.“Salvador Dali, the subject most frequently photographed by Halsman, had an obsession with mathematics and mysticism, and the interconnection of (...)
Erich Hartmann Shadows meeting on stairway. New York City, USA. 1979.“In fact Erich Hartmann’s ‘Obsession’ was photography itself. He was fortunate in that his photographic career coincided with the second ha (...)
David Alan Harvey ‘Berlin Wall.’ Hanover, Germany. 1989.“A winter day: cold, wet, gray. Berlin. My first visit to Germany and the wall was coming down. As individuals we get obsessed by all kinds of things. As d (...)
Tim Hetherington Homemade football. Kuito, Angola. 2002.“A boy holds a football made from scraps of material in Angola (2002). Sport is very popular amongst Angolans and the universality of football, along with (...)
Thomas Hoepker Andy Warhol in his "Factory" at Union Square. New York City, USA. 1981.“Encouraged by youth photo-awards from ‘Photokina,’ influenced by Otto Steinert's ‘Subjective Photography,’ impressed by a (...)
Sohrab Hura Kashmir. 2017.“A myna bird had its feet stuck in the snow as it fluttered its wings in struggle. My friend Sajad helped to get it free before we continued wading our way through the snow. It was (...)
David Hurn Sun City, Arizona, USA. 1980.“I am not sure I have ever felt the need to use the word ‘obsession’–for me, it feels intrinsically unhealthy. But I do like passion, or maybe more accurately, enth (...)
Richard Kalvar New York City, USA. 1969.“New York, 1969. A woman obsessed. With her image in the mirror? With what she sees through the window? Or maybe simply with the act of looking, like me …”- Richard K (...)
Carl De Keyzer Bombay, India. 1985.“This picture decided my career as a photographer. After my first long trip abroad (ever), I told my wife and parents I would never travel again. Heat, no money, illness, dir (...)
Hiroji Kubota Chongjin, Hamgyongbukdo, North Korea. 1986."‘Obsession’ is a fitting word with regard to my involvement in North Korea. Back in the fall of 1978, I was invited by Kim Il-sung himself to visit his (...)
Erich Lessing Marcel Marceau, French mime artist who created ‘Bip the Clown,’ in his dressing room, with American actor Stan Laurel. Paris, France. 1958."It was always my aim to show how one could find a livi (...)
Herbert List Rue des Grands-Augustins, Paris. France. 1944.“Pablo Picasso at his studio with the plaster statue, ‘Bustier de Femme,’ depicting Marie-Thérèse Walter, with whom he had an eight-year-long love (...)
Danny Lyon Nancy at the Esplanade Hotel. New York City. 1979. “Nancy Weiss Lyon: muse, mother and step-mother of our four children, quilt maker, water colorist, maker of films, audio recordist for Willie, (...)
Constantine Manos Mardi Gras. New Orleans, Louisiana, USA. 1993.“This picture was made in New Orleans during Mardi Gras, 1993. It was part of a long term project to make color photographs all over the USA, which (...)
Diana Markosian Neighbors gather to celebrate a quinceañera in the outskirts of Havana. Cuba. 2018.“A photograph for me is not a single image, it is a relationship that builds over time.I met Pura by chance. (...)
Peter Marlow A portrayal of a traditional English seaside resort: Entrance to the ballroom of the Fort Lodge Hotel. Margate, England. 2002.“This image was taken in Margate, in 2002: a lost traditional Engli (...)
Steve McCurry Tagong, Tibet. 1999.“I photographed this young woman at a horse festival in Tagong, Tibet. Her sense of style was highlighted by the emerald green shirt, which contrasted with the rich blues and (...)
Susan Meiselas Gawker. Tunbridge, Vermont, USA. 1974.“He looks at her.She may or may not be looking at him.He dreams and delights in her moves.She may or may not be moving for him.”- Susan Meisel (...)
Lorenzo Meloni IS fighters set fire to oil fields close to Qayyarah as a way to avoid coalition airstrikes. Qayyarah, Iraq. November 2016.“War is a constant repetition of the same events. You end up photograph (...)
Cristina de Middel Puebla, Mexico. 2019.“I moved to Mexico in 2014, but in my mind I had been living there way before. At once unreal, surreal and incredibly harsh, like a comedy, drama and romantic movie playing (...)
Rafal Milach A model in the visual arts studio at the Heydar Aliyev Centre. Salyan, Azerbaijan. 2016.“For over a decade I’ve been obsessed with propaganda, control and manipulation mechanisms, and how they a (...)
Wayne Miller Joan Miller. Orinda, California, USA. 1955.“Wayne was not obsessed with photographing Joan, his wife, but was compelled. His eyes followed her with his camera throughout their 70-year marriage. (...)
Emin Özmen Children play in the water, on the roof of a partially sunken mosque in Savasan. Halfeti, Turkey. 2018.“I don't know what the reason is, but water is often present in my photos, like an unconsci (...)
Trent Parke Bondi Beach, Sydney, Australia. 2000.“I have always had two main obsessions in life, cricket and photography:To break this down further, my work has always revolved around Australia and light (...)
Martin Parr The Grand National. Aintree Racecourse. England. 2018.“I am obsessed with photographing race meetings. From shooting the Derby when I was still at school to the Grand National in this photo take (...)
Paolo Pellegrin Kyoto, Japan. 2019.“I have always loved birds, perhaps it is their self-reliance.There is a notion of freedom that is associated with flight, one that feels at once familiar and unachievable. (...)
Gilles Peress Jean-Luc Godard. Cannes, France. 1985.“At the Cannes Film Festival while preparing for the screening of his film Détective (1985), Godard was obsessed with the sharpness of the projection and sp (...)
Gueorgui Pinkhassov Café. Tokyo, Japan. 1996.“A barmaid standing in the open door of a cafe caught my attention. As I was trying to focus my lens, the door slowly began to close. ‘Be quick,’ I told myself. A moment (...)
Mark Power Touchet, Washington, USA. February 2019.“From Ed Ruscha to William Eggleston, the history of American photography is littered with images of gas stations. These humble structures remain a defini (...)
Guy Le Querrec At the market, a meeting point for merchants from Niger and Nigeria. Baleyara, Niger. Sunday, April 4, 1993.“In the spring of 1939, after having listened to Duke Ellington at the Palais de Chai (...)
Raghu Rai Tree. India. 2013-15.“The obsession with traveling and exploring the unknown and the unseen, even at 76, remains my calling. Arunachal Pradesh–the northeast of India during monsoon rains: dark c (...)
Eli Reed Harlem Street Scene. New York City. 1987.

“My obsession is looking at life as it is instead of what it should be.”

- Eli Reed © Eli Reed | Magnum Photos
Lua Ribeira Girl in the Grass. Bristol, England. 2017.“This image is from a body of work entitled ’Subida al Cielo’ (Ascent to Heaven). While working, I constantly find myself on a patch of grass, in a p (...)
Cristina Garcia Rodero Barcelona. 2018.“Loco y tenaz te sueño cada noche. Sueños de roces que dan vértigo, de labios que dan rabia. Sueño que vivo al borde de tu boca, que muero de tu piel, de tus tacones en mi carne (...)
George Rodger N'Djamena (formerly Fort-Lamy), Chari-Baguirmi, Chad. 1941.“In Fort Lamy, Chad, Hausa chieftains in the entourage of Sultan Kesser demonstrate their superb horsemanship in what is known as ‘Fant (...)
Moises Saman A TV playing an Indian soap opera inside the tent of a family displaced because of their affiliation with ISIS. Qayyarah, Iraq. August 30, 2018."As a photographer, I work in contexts that are de (...)
Alessandra Sanguinetti Buenos Aires, Argentina. 2001.“While I was working on On the Sixth Day, exploring the life and death of farm animals, I came across a man who lived with his horse. It would come and go as it plea (...)
Ferdinando Scianna Manhattan Bridge and Brooklyn Bridge in the fog. New York City, USA. 1986.“A cold winter day in New York.Suddenly, this spectacle, elucidating the transience of things.Perhaps the greatest (...)
Jérôme Sessini From the series, “Hometown.” France. October 30, 2016.“According to the Oxford English Dictionary, an obsession is: ‘An idea or thought that continually preoccupies or intrudes on a person's min (...)
David Seymour Audrey Hepburn during the filming of Funny Face (1957). Paris, France. 1956.“Audrey Hepburn (1929-1993) was one of the most successful and celebrated actors of all time. She starred in the Broad (...)
Marilyn Silverstone First lady Jacqueline Kennedy returns from a state visit to the Lake Palace Hotel. Udaipur, India. March 1962.“Marilyn was drawn to photographing women: powerful women like maharanis, queens, p (...)
Sim Chi Yin Shrouds. Lushan, Jiangxi province, China. July 2016.“As rain and fog sweep in on Lushan, or Mount Lu, a pair of visitors in identical raincoats ascend toward one of its peaks, walking into the w (...)
Lindokuhle Sobekwa “My obsession with photography has made me penetrate places and spaces I thought I could never have access to.Daleside used to be a predominantly white area where my mother was employed as a dom (...)
Jacob Aue Sobol Copenhagen, Denmark. 2010.“To me the camera has always been a tool to find and depict love to a point thatit became an obsession. How close can I get to a love that feels true in my images? I (...)
Alec Soth Sapporo, Japan. 2016.“Inspired by my favorite photobook, Ravens by Masahisa Fukase, I traveled to Hokkaido, Japan, by train in 2016. I hired an assistant but she was not a photographer, nor did (...)
Chris Steele-Perkins Kids playing. Wolverhampton, England. 1978.“What has this photograph got to do with obsession? I am always interested in the craft of a photograph, even obsessional about it: how the frame is pu (...)
Dennis Stock Man holding a surfboard on beach steps in Corona Del Mar. California, USA. 1968.“I just want to alleviate some of the suffering we tend to go through as human beings and leave behind some beauty (...)
Mikhael Subotzky Football tournament in a refugee camp in Western Uganda. 2008.“I am obsessed with football. Full stop. If I was a better player, I certainly wouldn't be a photographer or an artist. But I'm not, (...)
Larry Towell Mennonites. Capulín, Chihuahua, Mexico. 1996.“I documented the lives of Old Colony Mennonites migrating as farm workers between Ontario, Canada, and the two dozen or more colonies in Mexico from (...)
Patrick Zachmann Jews in France: Celebration for the 33rd anniversary of the State of Israel. Paris, France. 1981.“Art is about obsession, photography about memory and the past.I have always been obsessed by (...)

While any attempt at the pigeonholing or corralling of personal or artistic obsessions is likely in itself paradoxical, there are nonetheless some recurring themes and motifs that become apparent on viewing the 85 wildly disparate photographs, which collectively span 78 years, not to mention much of the world.

From the consuming perfection of techniques, to the obsessive manipulation of the photograph – a broad variety of technical approaches can be found within Magnum’s archive. As Hans Finsler wrote in a 1945 article – excerpted for the caption to the oldest image in the selection, Werner Bischoff’s floral photomontage – “He finds new and untapped possibilities of photographic approach and technique.”

Werner Bischof Photomontage. Zurich, Switzerland. 1941."Werner Bischof … thinks and works from the start in photographic terms. He uses the graphic elements of photography to suit his ends, which are the cryst (...)
Trent Parke Bondi Beach, Sydney, Australia. 2000.“I have always had two main obsessions in life, cricket and photography:To break this down further, my work has always revolved around Australia and light (...)
Olivia Arthur Birds over the Bosporus. Istanbul, Turkey. 2006.“At some point I became obsessed with stories about women and the way society sees and treats them. This journey started in Istanbul, with my frie (...)
Alec Soth Sapporo, Japan. 2016.“Inspired by my favorite photobook, Ravens by Masahisa Fukase, I traveled to Hokkaido, Japan, by train in 2016. I hired an assistant but she was not a photographer, nor did (...)

Beyond the honing of technique, the need for a photographer to be ever aware, responsive, and at times opportunistic is conveyed in various of the selection’s captions, with Abbas noting that he must, “See everything all the time.” In addition, as Chris Steele-Perkins notes, it is not only framing and craft that make an image: “The photograph needs an edge to it; a process unfolding, an uncertainty, for it to draw viewers in so that they too start to get engaged, start to notice more and wonder why.”

Chris Steele-Perkins Kids playing. Wolverhampton, England. 1978.“What has this photograph got to do with obsession? I am always interested in the craft of a photograph, even obsessional about it: how the frame is pu (...)
Eli Reed Harlem Street Scene. New York City. 1987.

“My obsession is looking at life as it is instead of what it should be.”

- Eli Reed © Eli Reed | Magnum Photos
Diana Markosian Neighbors gather to celebrate a quinceañera in the outskirts of Havana. Cuba. 2018.“A photograph for me is not a single image, it is a relationship that builds over time.I met Pura by chance. (...)

Magnum photographers have, over the years, turned their long-honed skills toward the documenting of social movements, conflicts, and the victories and failures of both states and societies around the globe. Eli Reed’s obsession, “looking at life as it is instead of what it should be,” reminds one of this weight often bestowed upon photography. The potential for the medium to serve as a means of historical record-keeping, and as a tool for holding society to account is similarly illuminated by many of the images and their captions. Magnum’s decades of socially engaged, longform, photographic exploration are on display in these images.

Ernest Cole Forbidden Love: two men kissing in the entrance to a subway station in Manhattan at the time of the Stonewall riots. New York City, USA. 1969-1970.“Ernest Cole's work in South Africa during the (...)
Larry Towell Mennonites. Capulín, Chihuahua, Mexico. 1996.“I documented the lives of Old Colony Mennonites migrating as farm workers between Ontario, Canada, and the two dozen or more colonies in Mexico from (...)
Matt Black Snowstorm. Madawaska, Maine, USA. 2019.“Obsession is usually viewed as something negative: a fixation that imposes itself on a person and creates a helplessness before it. But obsession can als (...)

A number of images, and their accompanying texts, dwell upon the perplexing contradictions and ambiguities which photography can embody. From Moises Saman’s explanation that he “works in contexts that are defined by multiple, competing narratives…” to Rafal Milach’s toying with the realms of propaganda, it is clear that photography is not – for all – a genre bestowed with preternatural clarity. Bieke Depoorter explains that her ongoing project, from which her image comes, sees her exploring “the complexities of the photographic enterprise, grappling with the relationship between photographer and subject.” For some, it seems that the obsession with photography lies within such complexities.

Dennis Stock Man holding a surfboard on beach steps in Corona Del Mar. California, USA. 1968.“I just want to alleviate some of the suffering we tend to go through as human beings and leave behind some beauty (...)
Leonard Freed Office party. New York City, USA. 1966.“‘Photography is like life.’ [Leonard] Freed once observed. ‘What does it all mean? I don’t know–but you get an impression, a feeling … an impression of w (...)

Photography can be a source of elation, joy, and escape – as Dennis Stock writes of his work, “I just want to alleviate some of the suffering we tend to go through as human beings.” Jubilant images among the selection, and fortuitous visual moments create photographs with their own ability to obsess. Bruno Barbey, whose selected image – he explains – relied on just such luck in its making, posits that photography is, “the only language that can be understood anywhere in the world.”

Bruno Barbey A boy plays in the Rivière des Galets. Réunion. 1991.“When traveling and photographing, you have to establish human contact while remaining discreet. Luck sometimes plays a role too. This boy w (...)
Philip Jones Griffiths The Beatles. England. 1963.“Philip was studying pharmacy in Liverpool in the 1960s when The Beatles formed. Liverpool at this time was an exciting place for young creative types. It became a hub (...)
David Seymour Audrey Hepburn during the filming of Funny Face (1957). Paris, France. 1956.“Audrey Hepburn (1929-1993) was one of the most successful and celebrated actors of all time. She starred in the Broad (...)
Philippe Halsman Salvador Dali and rhino. New York City, USA. 1956.“Salvador Dali, the subject most frequently photographed by Halsman, had an obsession with mathematics and mysticism, and the interconnection of (...)
Herbert List Rue des Grands-Augustins, Paris. France. 1944.“Pablo Picasso at his studio with the plaster statue, ‘Bustier de Femme,’ depicting Marie-Thérèse Walter, with whom he had an eight-year-long love (...)

Perhaps unsurprisingly, famous faces feature in the sale’s selections, from some of the most captivating figures of the golden age of cinema –Marilyn Monroe, Elizabeth Taylor and Audrey Hepburn, to artists like Warhol and Dali, whose own obsessive natures were legendary, quite apart from the hold they exerted over their audiences. Those less recognisable to the masses have just as much ability to entrance photographers; for some it is family members, or muses met in passing, for others it is the very movement of people and the energy of humans that serves as a point of endless intrigue. Nikos Economopoulos writes: “The one thing I keep returning to, is the genuine flow of emotions and the patterns of human connectivity that play out in the streets.” Susan Meiselas’ caption dwells upon the unknowable thoughts and motives of one’s subjects, “He looks at her. She may or may not be looking at him. He dreams and delights in her moves. She may or may not be moving for him.”

Susan Meiselas Gawker. Tunbridge, Vermont, USA. 1974.“He looks at her.She may or may not be looking at him.He dreams and delights in her moves.She may or may not be moving for him.”- Susan Meisel (...)
Christopher Anderson Pia with balloon in Gràcia. Barcelona, Spain. 2016.“I chose this image because I notice a couple of my obsessions in it. The first, most obviously, is my obsession with photographing my family. (...)
Cristina de Middel Puebla, Mexico. 2019.“I moved to Mexico in 2014, but in my mind I had been living there way before. At once unreal, surreal and incredibly harsh, like a comedy, drama and romantic movie playing (...)

Alongside varied depictions of humanity and society, wildlife is represented also. Animals are present as visual obsessions in themselves, as with Elliott Erwitt’s career-long focus upon dogs which, he explains, remind him of people, “but with more hair”, or Alessandra Sanguinetti’s interest in photographing farm animals. Sanguinetti explains she has been drawn to photographing animals since childhood, quoting from John Berger’s essay, Why Look at Animals, by way of explaining some of this allure: “With their parallel lives, animals offer man a companionship which is different from any offered by human exchange. Different because it is a companionship offered to the loneliness of man as a species.”

Elliott Erwitt New York City, USA. 2000.

“I am obsessed with dogs—because they remind me of people but with more hair.”

- Elliott Erwitt © Elliott Erwitt | Magnum Photos
Alessandra Sanguinetti Buenos Aires, Argentina. 2001.“While I was working on On the Sixth Day, exploring the life and death of farm animals, I came across a man who lived with his horse. It would come and go as it plea (...)
Sohrab Hura Kashmir. 2017.“A myna bird had its feet stuck in the snow as it fluttered its wings in struggle. My friend Sajad helped to get it free before we continued wading our way through the snow. It was (...)

Animals serve also as markers, or motifs, through which broader issues and captivations can be explored, as is the case with Sohrab Hura’s use of them to speak about humanity’s impact on the world around us, “I believe that as much as we affect the environment around us, the environment also affects us back and it is this complex state of being that I’m interested in.” For Stuart Franklin it is trees which he finds himself repeatedly photographing, “I am drawn to them as friends during my travels to the farthest corners of the planet.”

Stuart Franklin Forest Research Institute Malaysia. Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. 1996.“Obsession for me begins with walking amongst trees. I am drawn to them as friends during my travels to the farthest corners of (...)
Mark Power Touchet, Washington, USA. February 2019.“From Ed Ruscha to William Eggleston, the history of American photography is littered with images of gas stations. These humble structures remain a defini (...)
Jim Goldberg Bus Stop, D965. Eastern Anatolia, Turkey. 1990.“During my honeymoon in Turkey, I opted for public transportation to get around. I remember pulling over, seemingly in the middle of nowhere, at th (...)

Then of course there are places – from the seemingly mundane to the breath-taking, locations which are captivating on a sliding scale encompassing everything from whole nations, to cities, or individual homes. For some it is structures one might consider every-day which hold allure – be it gas stations, bus stops, or airports. For others it is rarified architecture, magnificent landmarks, the familiarity of a hometown, or a hermetic, alien nation which become vehicles for their own photographic obsessions.

Rene Burri Stable, horse, pool and house planned by architect Luis Barragán. Cuadra San Cristóbal, Mexico. 1976.“René Burri’s personal tribute to the spirit of Luis Barragán.”- Clotilde Burri Blanc, wife (...)
Hiroji Kubota Chongjin, Hamgyongbukdo, North Korea. 1986."‘Obsession’ is a fitting word with regard to my involvement in North Korea. Back in the fall of 1978, I was invited by Kim Il-sung himself to visit his (...)
Carolyn Drake Door to Hell. Darvaza, Turkmenistan. 2009.“The enigmatic qualities of photography are a continuing obsession in my work. I made this picture while working on my Two Rivers project in Central Asi (...)

Ethereal obsessions are also on show. Guy Le Querrec’s career photographing jazz musicians has left him sensing the genre’s syncopated rhythms in unexpected places and forms, while Jacob Aue Sobol’s focal point is that most elusive notion, love: “I photographed young couples in love across the planet to remind us that we are all the same, to remind us that what we have in common is greater than what separates us.” Patrick Zachman’s text sees him considering the obsessing nature of memory, amnesia, and the repetition of history: “Art is about obsession. Photography about memory and the past.”

Jacob Aue Sobol Copenhagen, Denmark. 2010.“To me the camera has always been a tool to find and depict love to a point thatit became an obsession. How close can I get to a love that feels true in my images? I (...)
Patrick Zachmann Jews in France: Celebration for the 33rd anniversary of the State of Israel. Paris, France. 1981.“Art is about obsession, photography about memory and the past.I have always been obsessed by (...)
Guy Le Querrec At the market, a meeting point for merchants from Niger and Nigeria. Baleyara, Niger. Sunday, April 4, 1993.“In the spring of 1939, after having listened to Duke Ellington at the Palais de Chai (...)

“I realize now that through my work these past twenty-five years I have been searching for myself, my time, and the world I live in,” wrote Eve Arnold, and perhaps this may be the closest one can come to finding any sort of unifying thread in a photographic catalogue of obsessions. It is photography, the pursuit, the act, the practice, and the genre’s power to tell stories, to document or indeed foment change, which has kept Magnum photographers working obsessively for more than 70 years.

All images from the Obsessions Sqare Print collection can be purchased exclusively on the Magnum Shop.

Eve Arnold A mother holds her child's hand; a baby’s first five minutes. Port Jefferson, Long Island, New York. 1959."I realize now that through my work these past twenty-five years I have been searching f (...)