Icons of the Square Print Sale
Six images in this October's Square Print Sale are among the best known ever taken by photographers ranging from Robert Capa to Jim Goldberg.
Some are familiar, some are overlooked gems, rarely seen. But some in Magnum’s upcoming Square Print Sale — which runs for just one week, October 17–23 — are genuine icons, instantly recognized, widely celebrated.
Below, we highlight six such images, each of which is available during the sale as a signed or estate-stamped museum-quality 6×6” print, priced £100/€120/$100+tax. The full collection of 122 images is now available to browse here, and the prints are available only for the duration of the one-week sale, never to be reprinted in the same size or format again.
For the first time in the Square Print Sale’s history, all the images will be on public preview at a pop-up exhibition at The Photographers’ Gallery, showing from October 14 — a few days before the sale beings — to October 23.
And, in celebration of the upcoming sale in partnership with The Photographers’ Gallery, we are giving away five Magnum Square Prints for free. Just enter your email here for the chance to win a print of your choice from the sale. You will also be the first to know about the sale, as well as any exclusive discounts and offers from the Magnum Shop.
US troops assault Omaha Beach during the D-Day landings. Normandy, France. June 6, 1944.
‘The Magnificent Eleven’, Robert Capa’s pictures of the D-Day landings, are the stuff of war photography legend, epitomizing his famous maxim, “If your pictures aren’t good enough, you aren’t close enough.”
Captured under fire during one of the early waves of Allied troop landings on Omaha Beach on June 6, 1944, they remain an invaluable historical record of a major turning point in world history, and were an inspiration for Steven Spielberg’s movie, Saving Private Ryan.
Capa recalled the day of the landing in his memoir, Slightly Out of Focus, published three years later, writing: “I am a gambler. I decided to go in with Company E in the first wave.” When eventually they crossed the English Channel and arrived near shore to disembark their barge, machine-gun fire strafed around them.
“Waist-deep, with rifles ready to shoot, with the invasion obstacles and the smoking beach in the background — this was good enough for the photographer. I paused for a moment on the gangplank to take my first real picture of the invasion. The boatswain, who was in an understandable hurry to get the hell out of there, mistook my picture-taking attitude for explicable hesitation, and helped me make up my mind with a well-aimed kick in the rear.
“The water was cold, and the beach still more than a hundred yards away. The bullets tore holes in the water around me, and I made for the nearest steel obstacle. A soldier got there at the same time, and for a few minutes, we shared its cover. He took the waterproofing off his rifle and began to shoot without much-aiming at the smoke-hidden beach. The sound of his rifle gave him enough courage to move forward and he left the obstacle to me. It was a foot larger now, and I felt safe enough to take pictures of the other guys hiding just like I was.”
Marilyn Monroe in the Nevada desert during the filming of ‘The Misfits’. USA, 1960.
“A deep vein of sadness runs through Eve Arnold’s photographs from the set of The Misfits, John Huston’s 1961 movie set in the wide-open spaces of the Nevada desert,” wrote Josh Lustig in the Financial Times in 2020. “The film is a story of expectations, broken dreams and failed relationships — and it echoes what was happening to its key players off-screen.”
The film, an elegiac tale of divorce and aging cowboys, is tainted with sadness as Monroe’s swansong. Arnold didn’t know it at the time, but The Misfits was to be Monroe’s last completed movie. She died of an overdose just a year after the film’s release. Gable had already died, suffering a heart attack 12 days after production was wrapped.
Like the mournful tone of the film, Arnold’s pictures carry an unintended emotional weight, the story behind the production — Monroe’s tortured soul — as intriguing and stirring as the film itself.
The photographer had established a unique bond with the troubled star, working with her for over a decade, having first met at a party held for Huston. Monroe had seen Arnold’s pictures of Marlene Dietrich, reportedly saying to the photographer, “If you did that well with Marlene, can you imagine what you could do with me?”
Both were still relatively unknown at the time.”She was going places, but she hadn’t arrived,” Arnold once recalled. “It became a bond between us… Marilyn was very important in my career. I think I was helpful in hers.”
In her 1995 book, In Retrospect, Arnold reflected: “Over the 10-year stretch during which I photographed her, the infinite changes she could wring from situation to situation never failed to surprise me. We went from personal snaps in the ladies’ room of the Chicago airport through intimate reportage, through formal color studio shots for covers.
“These changes are only possible if the photographer has forged a relationship which permits an atmosphere in which the subject feels relaxed and safe, an intimacy that allows the person being photographed to be uninhibited and to reveal hitherto unknown aspects of herself.”
It was this iconic image, above, from The Misfits, that was chosen for Arnold’s 1987 book, Marilyn Monroe: An Appreciation.
Destiny’s Shiny Bracelet. Hollywood, California, USA. 1989.
“It couldn’t be much stronger,” opined Paul Richard in 1995, art critic for The Washington Post, writing about the opening of Jim Goldberg’s exhibition, Raised by Wolves, at the Corcoran Gallery of Art. “The exhibition shares little with the holier-than-thou, guilt-inducing preachments that these days fill so many galleries. It isn’t propaganda. It doesn’t say it’s all your fault, and it doesn’t offer answers. The largest thing about it is the way it extracts beauty — and many kinds of beauty, too — from scenes of desperation that ought to make the viewer rage or weep or retch.”
Goldberg’s subjects are often people existing on the fringes, people who are otherwise treated as invisible by mainstream society, or flattened into caricature. Raised By Wolves, which was published as a now acclaimed book by Scalo in the same year as the exhibition, follows California street kids as they fumble through lives colored by addiction, abuse, and violence.
Goldberg is quick to point out that it is not a work of photojournalism. Raised By Wolves plays in the space between documentary and narrative fiction — “a work of fiction that’s completely true,” as he put it. Tweeky Dave, Echo, and the rest are real people, and the photographs, text, and ephemera that make up the project are all authentic products of their lives, but the tales they tell are often half-truths, sometimes fully fabricated.”
Recalling the circumstances behind one of the most iconic pictures in the series, Destiny’s Shiny Bracelet, above, Goldberg says it was taken in a squat underneath the Hollywood Freeway during the summer of 1989. “She was emblematic of many of the kids living on the street, hustling day to day to survive. Her prized possession was a ‘diamond’ bracelet given to her many years before by an estranged uncle.”
Created over the course of a decade, Raised By Wolves documented runaway teenagers in the streets of San Francisco and Los Angeles. “The series brought awareness to an epidemic of houseless youths in America, giving people a glimpse into the lives of these kids while providing a platform for them to speak about their experiences,” says Goldberg. “Nothing much has changed since then.”
Ostend, Belgium. 1988.
“Water and sky. Land and sea. Light and dark. Harry Gruyaert’s photograph of a day on the seafront in Ostend begs to be called elemental. An everyday scene that takes in new life (notice the pram) and the encroaching immensity of the darkness that keeps edging in on all of us. (Or maybe we’re projecting our own fears?)” So said Glasgow newspaper The Herald in 2015, alighting on the picture above in its preview of the Belgian photographer’s new monograph, published by Thames & Hudson.
“The images gathered together in a new book of his photographs are full of quiet, even banal moments. But they are transformed by Gruyaert’s eye, an eye that can find beauty in a raincloud, flaking paint or a string of lightbulbs.”
The coast has long been a recurrent theme in Gruyaert’s work. “Seasides are special places, both visually and symbolically, where land, sea and sky meet… Being a northern man, I feel particularly attracted to the pale light and heavy cloudy skies of the Belgian coast and its melancholic atmosphere, which reminds of the paintings of James Ensor and Léon Spilliaert, two painters who were both from Ostend.”
Sorrento, Italy. 2014.
“I have a long-established affection for the beach as a place to photograph,” Martin Parr once said. “People can really be themselves as they sunbathe, play, swim and relax.”
It was at New Brighton, a seaside resort across the Mersey from Liverpool, that Parr created The Last Resort, the book that brought his work to worldwide attention. And the seaside continues to fascinate him. The picture above taken on one of his favorite beaches to photograph these days, in the rather more exotic locale of southern Italy, which features in his 2014 book, The Amalfi Coast.
“It’s in Sorrento and is in shade until about 4pm, when finally a bit of sunshine may creep in. It is very small and packed with young people. Most of the day I was shooting down below, and then I walked up for lunch and could look straight down onto the beach with a telephoto lens. Here in the middle was a young couple in full embrace.”
Farmer resting after the harvest, Centralia, Kansas, USA. 1956.
Eric Hartmann, who would have been 100 years old this year, was known for his poetic approach to subjects including science, architecture and industry, evident in photo essays such as, ‘Shapes of Sound’, ‘The Building of Saint Lawrence Seaway’ and ‘The Deep North.’ He traveled the globe carrying out assignments from newspapers, magazines and corporate clients, but throughout his career, he also pursued long-term personal projects, many with literary echoes, such as Shakespeare’s England, Joyce’s Dublin, Hardy’s Wessex.
However, he is perhaps best remembered for Our Daily Bread, his magnum opus, eight years in the making, shot across four continents. The project includes subjects as geographically diverse as land workers in Israel, a miller in rural France, grain barges on the Mississippi, Bedouin in Beersheba selling grain at market, and this photograph, above, of a farmer resting after wheat harvest, shot in Centralia, Kansas, in the US in 1956.
“He had been assigned to take photographs to illustrate a magazine article about the young winner of an annual bake-off contest,” his wife, Ruth Bains Hartmann, would later recall. “There he met the young winner’s father, Leonard Harden, a farmer of certified seed wheat. Impressed with Harden’s devotion to his land and its crop, he returned to photograph the harvest.”
One of the resulting images was this photograph of Harden, which has been widely published, usually captioned Farmer resting after the harvest, notably on the cover of the book, Our Daily Bread, published by Kehrer in 2013.