Way for Escape: The Magnum Square Print Sale
Magnum's July 2021 Square Print Sale collects images on adventuring as well as seeking inner peace
Over 90 signed or estate-stamped 6×6” prints by Magnum photographers are available for $100, for one week only – from 6AM PST on Monday, July 12 to Sunday, July 18, 11:59 PM PST.
The museum-quality prints are accompanied by statements from the photographers and estates, reproduced on archival-quality labels on the reverse of the print. You can see all the images in the selection – and the photographers’ corresponding stories and quotes – above, and buy them on the Magnum Shop, here.
Exploring the push and pull of breaking free, this curated selection of Magnum’s July Square Print Sale explores imagery representing the things we take solace in, and the ways we make our getaway.
For many Magnum photographers, a project offered a chance to break free from the day-to-day: to drop everything in order to go in pursuit of a story. This theme, Way for Escape, shares stories of travelling in search of an external subject, or finding answers which lie within. Inspired by Russian folklore, photographer Nanna Heitmann traced the route of the Yenisei River through Siberia to capture a village of Old Believers, followers of the 17th Century Eastern Orthodox Church.
Other photographs in this curation speak of the excitement of embarking on a long-awaited journey. Werner Bischof’s photograph of a pit-stop in the USA captures a point in time, right before his first major trip to South America. His wife Rosellina wrote, “It’s the beginning of February and we are ready: tomorrow morning we leave New York fully laden and full of plans. […] It’s going to be a fantastic trip! We’ll learn Spanish in the car, and can’t wait to reach the Mexican border.”
Some images capture the promise and anticipation of travelling to a new destination, like in Christopher Anderson’s image, where sunlit fingertips brush the window of an airplane. Harry Gruyaert’s image was inspired by a longstanding interest in airports, and the interaction between architecture and the ways people use space: from this he created succinct portraits of how we spend our time when waiting to get from one place to another. Philippe Halsman’s composition translates the lightness of airborne travel into a feeling, ballet dancer Edward Vilella leaps through the air, mirroring the shape of a stationary aircraft behind him.
For many, restoration and renewal arise from just getting ‘out there’, on the road, or amid the life of the city, feeling the breeze through your hair. Danny Lyon’s portrait of two bike riders and Ernest Cole’s snapshot of two women who walk down the street in New York City in 1971 are two images which convey the spontaneity and glee that can be present in simply existing.
Some of these images represent how we construct our own sanctuaries. Steve McCurry remembered capturing women in Rajasthan, India, experiencing a unique moment while singing a prayer for rain amid a dust storm: “I got out of the car, ran across a field and photographed them moments before the storm disappeared. Then the sun immediately came out, as if nothing had ever happened.” In contrast to this rural scene, Martin Parr’s photograph from a bustling Hong Kong race course shows an individual immersed in observation, outfitted with binoculars and newspaper. Another image, by Cristina De Middel and Bruno Morais shows a young tree swaddled in a translucent sheet. Their joint project examines the ways that the natural world, and our conception of escape as a whole, is crafted for human consumption.
While for some, escape entails adventure, for others it’s rest. Elliott Erwitt’s image of a man and boy — perhaps his grandson — cycling along a tree-lined avenue in Provence, France conveys a leisurely peacefulness. There is a tranquility to be found in the contemplation of a peaceful vista, as captured in Gregory Halpern’s photograph of an oil painting in progress at Sutro Baths in San Francisco. In Alec Soth’s image, Cammy the cockatiel enjoys the view from her window in Salt Lake City, perhaps imagining an alternate life for herself beyond the glass.
Escape also invokes the places, people, and associated conflicts which we seek to move away from. W. Eugene Smith’s most famous photo essay saw him documenting life in Spain after the civil war. Shortly after making his well-known image of the Guardia Civil, Franco’s brutal military police, Smith stated his impatience, to his interpreter, to “get the hell out of here”. In David Hurn’s image, The Beatles’ Ringo Starr peeks furtively at adoring crowds outside the window of his train carriage where he tries to take refuge. Khalik Allah’s images, from his series made at the corner of 125th Street and Lexington, New York, aim to capture the inner light of the people he meets there. His photograph highlights how beauty transcends the material conditions of homelessness and addiction that these individuals struggle with.
This collection of 90+ prints is available for one week only in this format. It represents the breadth and variety not only of the practices and outlooks within Magnum’s membership, but also of what photography can convey and capture.