The Unexpected: The Magnum Square Print Sale

The March 2021 Magnum Square Print Sale brings together images that celebrate the role that unpredictability plays in photography, and life

Abbas White doves are kept at the Shinto Yasukuni shrine, dedicated to military personnel killed during Japan's wars. They are considered to be spirits of the departed. Tokyo, Japan. 2000. “Sometimes I (...)
Antoine d’Agata Virus series. Paris lockdown. France. March 17, 2020. “2020. Unexpected events and imperatives, related to the urgency of survival, transformed lived experience into the object of invisible fears (...)
Peter van Agtmael Illinois, USA. 2017. “In the winter of 2017, I was in southern Illinois documenting the environmental consequences of coal mining in the region. I rented a helicopter to survey damage that was hi (...)
Khalik Allah From the 125th & Lexington series. Harlem, New York City, USA. 2018. “Long before becoming a photographer I was in Harlem studying Knowledge of Self. Books and VHS tapes from Dr John Henrik Clark (...)
Christopher Anderson Sète, France. 2011.

"If it is expected, what is the point? Without the unforeseen, there is no thrill, no revelation."

– Christopher Anderson © Christopher Anderson | Magnum Photos
Eve Arnold Marilyn Monroe reading Ulysses by James Joyce. Long Island, New York, USA. 1955. “This image was made by Eve during her first shoot with Marilyn Monroe. Monroe had shown Eve her down-to-earth, rel (...)
Olivia Arthur Kids at Ski Dubai, Dubai. U.A.E. 2013. “One of the more surreal experiences I’ve had was a visit to Ski Dubai, a large indoor ski slope with sub-zero temperatures and real snow. You take a lift up (...)
Micha Bar Am Olive harvest. Galilee, Israel. 1958. “The olive tree, which symbolises peace, wisdom, and prosperity also becomes a seasonal point of conflict in the ancient Bible land. In Galilee, an old Dru (...)
Bruno Barbey | -scaled.jpg Courtyard of the zawiya. Moulay Idriss, Fez, Morocco. 1983. “In his homage to Bruno Barbey who died last year, Goncourt Prize winner Tahar Ben Jelloun wrote: "He was a photographer, he could have (...)
Jonas Bendiksen Shinjuku, Tokyo. 2016. “I was in Tokyo working on a chapter of an ongoing project, and had finished photographing for the day. Tokyo is a city packed with light, movement, and intensity, so I sti (...)
Ian Berry Ras al-Hadd near Sur, Oman. 2004. “While travelling through Oman, I came across this fort near Sur. Always on the lookout for the unexpected, I spotted these children playing with kites fashioned (...)
Werner Bischof ‘Floating snails’. Zurich, Switzerland. 1936. "Werner Bischof turns again and again to nature for his ideas, even his simple studies of nature have conscious form, and often it is nature itself (...)
Matt Black Country road. Lindsay, California, USA. 2013. “A life without change is bad for anyone, and for the photographer in particular. It is in the unexpected that good things happen.” – Matt Black (...)
René Burri Wilting lotus flowers on Kunming Lake. The Summer Palace, Beijing, China. 1964.

"If you dare to cross a border at the right time, magical things can happen.”

– René Burri © René Burri | Magnum Photos
Enri Canaj Honeybee standing on the woodcutter's hand. Northern Albania. 2014. “The little bee was the unexpected visitor that morning. She remained on the woodcutter's hand for a while. Spreading a feeling (...)
Cornell Capa Gladys Crowder and Eddie "Shorty" Davis. Two of the great Lindy Hop dancers, in the Kat's Corner at the Savoy Ballroom. Harlem, New York City, USA. 1939. "I am not an artist and I never intend (...)
Robert Capa A Dior model, wearing a ‘New Look’ long skirt. Place Vendôme, 1st arrondissement, Paris, France. 1948. Robert Capa — near-exclusively known for his black and white photographs — first used color (...)
Chien-Chi Chang Taoyuan International Airport, Taoyuan, Taiwan. 2008. “From time to time, people ask me if this image is a collage! Well, it was an unexpected scene found in 2008, at Taiwan’s Taoyuan Internatio (...)
Sabiha Çimen Students having fun on an artificial lake on the weekend. Istanbul, Turkey. 2018 “The Qur’an school is an ordered, structured, and predictable environment for learning, so during holidays and bre (...)
Ernest Cole New York City, U.S.A. Circa 1971. “One of the strangest phenomena of street photography is when the photographer appears to engage in a form of cultural prophecy. The collision of today with tomo (...)
Colby Deal | From the series, "Beautiful, Still." From the series Beautiful, Still. 2020 "The ongoing photographic series, Beautiful, Still, is focused on presenting a more practical representation of people of color in urban communities and pre (...)
Raymond Depardon The Fall of the Berlin Wall. A young man sits on the wall that divides East and West Berlin, between the Brandenburg Gate and Potsdamer Platz, Germany. November 11, 1989. “It arose from the East. (...)
Bieke Depoorter Sète, France. 2014. “I like to wander around at night, slowly, so that I can take long peeks through the gaps in the curtains of the small townhouses. I imagine what might be happening in these ho (...)
Thomas Dworzak “Himmel Über Belfast.” Belfast, Northern Ireland. 1990. "At 17, with two years of high school still ahead of me, I bought an ‘interrail’ ticket that allowed me to take any train in Europe. Having (...)
Nikos Economopoulos Women watching the dancing during a local feast. Avlona, Karpathos, Greece. August, 1989. "A circle of elderly Karpathos women, and an unexpected dog, overseeing a dance performance at Saint John (...)
Elliott Erwitt New York City, New York, USA. 1955. “To me, photography is an art of observation. It’s about finding something interesting in an ordinary place. I’ve found it has little to do with the things you (...)
Stuart Franklin 'The tank man'. Tiananmen Square, Beijing, China. June 4, 1989. “In June, 1989, following the Beijing massacre, a man stepped into the path of a row of tanks leaving Tiananmen Square and into the (...)
Leonard Freed Doves on train tracks. Third Avenue El. New York City, NY, USA. 1956. “The doves take off [from] the train tracks like New Yorkers take off for the Hamptons on summer weekends.” – Leonard Freed, (...)
Paul Fusco Robert Kennedy funeral train. USA. 1968. “Shooting with film, Paul never knew exactly what he had captured until it was developed. The circumstances of shooting from the funeral train, while i (...)
Cristina Garcia Rodero Encounter in the Prehistoric Valley, Cuba. 1999. “In the Caribbean breeze, a short stroll among the great, disappeared animals reminds us of the contrast between the fragility and strength of lif (...)
Jean Gaumy | Le Havre. 1991. On the stage of a theater. The port of Le Havre, Normandy, France. 1991. “I will not say anything about the circumstances under which this photograph was taken. Nor will I reveal the most unexpected part of it. It was my s (...)
Bruce Gilden New York City, USA. 1990. “I couldn't believe my eyes when I saw the expressions on the faces of these two seemingly related women as the younger one was pushing the other along Madison Avenue in (...)
Burt Glinn New York state senator Robert Francis Kennedy campaigning. Indianapolis, Indiana, USA. 1968. “In 1968, Burt spent many weeks photographing Bobby Kennedy as he travelled around the country during t (...)
Jim Goldberg | USA. Hollywood, California. 1991. Hollywood, Los Angeles, USA. 1991. “A band of kids invited me up to Psycho’s squat above Hollywood Boulevard. We walked up winding roads and past crowded homes tucked into the hillside. The kids i (...)
Philip Jones Griffiths Pant-y-Wean. Wales, UK. 1961 “This young boy, who Philip found taking a line-out (throw-in) atop this dilapidated piano, epitomizes the ambivalent Welsh love for both rugby and music. Pant-y-Wean, (...)
Harry Gruyaert | -scaled.jpg Gao, Mali. 1988. “In 1998, I was working on an assignment in Mali. I was staying in a little hotel in Gao, a small town on the River Niger. It was terribly hot in the hotel. Looking for some air, (...)
Ernst Haas “Leaping horse”, on the set of the Misfits. Nevada, USA. 1960. “Pictures - Some are questions Some are answers, I love it when they embody both.” – Ernst Haas, from the photographer’s notebo (...)
Gregory Halpern Solar eclipse. North Carolina, USA. 2017.

From Confederate Moons, TBW Books, 2018.

– Gregory Halpern © Gregory Halpern | Magnum Photos
Philippe Halsman Tippi Hedren. Hollywood, Los Angeles, USA. 1962. “In 1962, LOOK magazine gave Philippe Halsman the assignment to shoot their December cover story: ’Tippi Hedren: Hitchcock's new Grace Kelly’. Ha (...)
Erich Hartmann Shadows on sea and sand. Santa Monica, California, USA. 1979. “The idea of the ‘unexpected’ could easily be applied to all of Erich Hartmann’s personal photographs. In addition to whatever photog (...)
Bob Henriques Marilyn Monroe during the filming of ‘The Seven Year Itch’. New York City, USA. 1958. "Perhaps the most unexpected thing about Bob Henriques was that he had ever been a photographer at all. While (...)
Thomas Hoepker Muhammad Ali, world heavyweight champion showing off his left fist. Chicago, USA. 1966. “A 2015 search through hundreds of black-and-white negatives and color slides, for a new book on Muhammad A (...)
Sohrab Hura | -scaled.jpg Man, Dog, Bird. Varanasi, India. 2005.

“I thought I had photographed only the dog and the man, until I processed my negatives.”

– Sohrab Hura © Sohrab Hura | Magnum Photos
David Hurn A Black Mountain wild pony and young tourists brave the elements at this traditionally windy spot. Black Mountains, Wales, GB. 1974. “The nature of photography is that normally the photographer s (...)
Richard Kalvar St. Emilion, France. 1977.

“Why is this big ugly dog suddenly stalking me???”

“What is this little cat doing in the family basket???”

– Richard Kalvar © Richard Kalvar | Magnum Photos
Carl De Keyzer Fishing village. Mumbai, Maharashtra, India. 1985. "I was a full time assistant teacher at a local academy in Belgium when I took this photograph, during one of my trips to India. Due to my teach (...)
Hiroji Kubota Yellowstone National Park. Wyoming. USA. 1989. “Yellowstone National Park - sited mostly in Wyoming, but also crossing state borders into Montana and Idaho - was the first national park opened in (...)
Elliott Landy Bob Dylan. Woodstock, NY, USA. 1969. “As we left his house, he impulsively grabbed a hat from his coat rack. We walked through the woods behind his house looking for a good spot to take a picture. (...)
Herbert List Reflections of San Marco. Venice, Italy. 1953. “I aimed to capture the magic of appearances in pictures, yet I did not always succeed in portraying things so that their underlying meaning reveale (...)
Danny Lyon Scrambles Track, McHenry, Illinois, USA. 1965 The Bikeriders was a book made in two worlds, the world of motorcycle racers and the world of the Outlaws. The track at McHenry was a favorite destin (...)
Constantine Manos Daytona Beach, Florida, USA. 1997. “This picture, of the shadow of a girl riding a bicycle past a wall, next to a dangling phone receiver, was made in Daytona Beach, Florida, in 1997. In all my ph (...)
Peter Marlow Snow Square. Greenwich Park, London, Great Britain. 2009. “In winter you can place bets that snow will fall within the grounds of Buckingham Palace on Christmas Day. The bookies nearly always win (...)
Yael Martínez Bull. Guerrero, Mexico. 2018. “The burning of the bull is a ritual in Mexico that is linked to the sacred and the magical. It is a symbolic act that highlights an important moment for a person, fa (...)
Steve McCurry Flower Seller. Dal Lake, Srinagar, Kashmir. 1996. “I was staying next to Dal Lake in Kashmir. I would often take a water taxi to the various floating markets throughout the lake. One cold Novembe (...)
Susan Meiselas ‘Molotov Man’. Sandinistas at the walls of the Esteli National Guard headquarters. Esteli, Nicaragua. 1979. “It was on July 17, 1979, the day before Somoza fled Nicaragua, that I photographed Sand (...)
Lorenzo Meloni Battle for the old city. Western frontline, Mosul, Iraq. April 2017. “Someone I trusted told me it was safe, so I followed him. In fact, it was a small dead-end road with no place for turning back (...)
Dhana. From the series, The Afronauts, 2011 © Cristina de Middel/Magnum Photos. © | Magnum Photos
Rafal Milach From the project “The First March of Gentlemen.” Września, Poland. 2017.

“In what way does an image have agency, and does it have the ability to shift power structures?"

- Rafal Milach © Rafal Milach | Magnum Photos
Wayne Miller Ella Fitzgerald. Chicago, Illinois, USA. 1948. “I like stories, I just love them. Because you don’t know what’s going to happen, and as a photographer, if you’re doing a story, you have to have (...)
Inge Morath Chelsea Hotel, 23rd Street. Mr. Gross, one of the managers, tried to run a travel service for a while. New York City, USA. 1968. “Photography is a strange phenomenon. In spite of the use of that (...)
Emin Özmen People gather in a stadium during a large rally before the independence referendum in Erbil, Iraq. September 2017. “For a long time, I wanted to keep control over what my future would be made of. (...)
Trent Parke Flying Foxes. Mataranka, Australia. 2004. From the project Minutes To Midnight. “In 2003, Narelle and I quit our Sydney apartment, bought a two person tent, and took off on a road trip around Au (...)
Martin Parr Pyongyang, North Korea. 1997. “North Korea is maybe the most surreal country on Earth. Being there is like walking around on a film set. People don't want to engage with a foreigner, such as mysel (...)
Paolo Pellegrin A Roma family of Bosnian origin in a temporary encampment. The outskirts of Rome, Italy. 1995. “This image, made on a film camera, is nearing 30 years old now. While a technical error, it is an ex (...)
Gueorgui Pinkhassov Kiev train station, Moscow, Russia. 1995. “At some point I became more fascinated by the magic of photography than by its content. Or rather, the magic itself became the content. The metaphysics (...)
Mark Power Rumford, Maine, USA. 11.2019 "Even if I know where I'm going I can never predict what I’ll see when I get there, and walking the streets, turning a corner, or making the decision to go left or ri (...)
Guy Le Querrec During the 'Cavalcade des cirques', the elephants of the Bouglione Circus pass the Eiffel Tower. Place du Trocadéro, 16th arrondissement, Paris, France. 1978. "One day four elephants visited the E (...)
Raghu Rai Practicing Kalari on the beach of Cochin, Kerala, India. 2017 “Kalaripayattu, the oldest surviving martial art in India, known as Kalari for short, originated in Kerala, the southern coast of Ind (...)
Eli Reed San Salvador, El Salvador. 1982. “The year was 1982 and I was in El Salvador on assignment for The San Francisco Examiner newspaper seeking to understand why the horrific civil war was happening. (...)
Lúa Ribeira Man guiding the parade during Easter celebrations for children. Puente Genil, Córdoba, Spain. 2019. “Do ye complain” says he, ‘of sudden death?’ that have carried death about ye, ever since you (...)
George Rodger Jaipur, India. 1977. “While in India in 1977 photographing such architecturally perfect wonders as the Taj Mahal and the Agra Fort, the Fatehpur Sikri and the Jantar Mantar, George unexpectedly d (...)
Zied Ben Romdhane A cloud on the top of a hill near a phosphate field. Al-Mitlawi, Gafsa, Tunisia. 2015. “In the late 19th century, specifically in 1889, the French occupation brought laborers from different regi (...)
Sim Chi Yin A surprise sunset after a storm. Off the coast of Sanya, Hainan, southern China. 2018. “It’s a fine balance, to prepare well for things in life but remain open to serendipity and curveballs. As (...)
Moises Saman Camels on display at a camel market in the village of Birqash, on the outskirts of Cairo. Birqash, Egypt. 2011. “Seeking a break from the daily protests and violence that engulfed Cairo ten years (...)
Alessandra Sanguinetti Orphan rhea (ñandu). Province of Buenos Aires, Argentina. 2017. “I said goodbye to my friend Maria and was on the highway on my way to Buenos Aires, when her son called me excitedly saying they h (...)
Ferdinando Scianna The boat bound for Ellis Island. New York, USA. 1986.

“All of us look toward the unexpected.”

– Ferdinando Scianna © Ferdinando Scianna | Magnum Photos
Jérôme Sessini Caravan in the woods. Vosges, France. December. 2016. “I was walking in the cold, dark woods of Les Vosges, in the east of France. I had the welcome surprise of coming across this caravan. I wond (...)
David Seymour Audrey Hepburn. Jardins des Tuileries, First Arrondissement, Paris, France. 1956. “Chim’s photo of famed actress Audrey Hepburn playfully tugging on a bouquet of balloons records her delightful s (...)
Marilyn Silverstone USA. 1955. “Marilyn was one of the first women to join Magnum and her photographs graced the cover of Life and other publications. Her life was full of unpredictable turns and events. This quie (...)
W. Eugene Smith | USA. NYC. Lower Manhattan. 1957-1958. ‘Girl at the Flower Shop’. Lower Manhattan, New York, USA. 1958. © 2021 The Heirs of W. Eugene Smith “After quitting LIFE magazine in 1954, W. Eugene Smith moved into a shabby loft on 6th Avenue (...)
Lindokuhle Sobekwa ‘Bhayi alembathwa lembathwa ngabalaziyo’. 2020. “The series Ezilalini (The Country) grew out of my project ‘I carry Her photo with Me’, a hand-made photobook about my sister Ziyanda. As I investi (...)
Jacob Aue Sobol An old hunter is dead and most of the settlement is attending the funeral. Tiniteqilaaq, Greenland. 2000. © Jacob Aue Sobol | Magnum Photos
Chris Steele-Perkins Playing buzkashi. Charikar, Afghanistan. 1995.

“The unexpected is the lifeblood of photography. The predictable is safe, and boring.”

– Chris Steele Perkins © Chris Steele-Perkins | Magnum Photos
Alec Soth Banksy. Hollywood Hills, CA. 2017.

– Alec Soth © Alec Soth | Magnum Photos
Dennis Stock Audrey Hepburn. Long Island, New York, USA. 1954. “This image was made during the filming of ‘Sabrina’, which starred Hepburn, alongside Humphrey Bogart. The movie was nominated for six Academy A (...)
Mikhael Subotzky Jaco. Beaufort West Prison, South Africa. From the series Beaufort West. 2006 “For many years I had driven around the traffic circle at the centre of Beaufort West without realising it contained a (...)
Larry Towell Mennonites in the Cuauhtémoc Colonies. Mexico. 1992. “I'd spent a week driving from the Canadian border to Chihuahua in Mexico with Jacob and Susanna Wheeler and their seven children. Sometimes I (...)
Alex Webb ‘Sancti Spiritus’. Cuba. 1993. From the collaborative book, Violet Isle, with Rebecca Norris Webb. “I only know how to approach a place by walking. For what does a street photographer do but walk (...)
Patrick Zachmann Cambodia. 2002. “I was travelling by train in Cambodia for a magazine story. As I was walking through its very crowded compartments I looked up and saw these two men sitting on the train’s broke (...)

Until Sunday, March 28, 12PM PST, more than 90 signed or estate-stamped, museum-quality 6×6” prints by Magnum  photographers are available for $100, £100, and 110.

These 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 their corresponding texts – in the slideshow above, or on the Magnum Shop, here.

From its earliest days, photography has been associated with the unexpected: documentation of under-explored issues, reporting of events unfurling in far-flung locations, or single frames capturing split seconds of levity.

Over more than seven decades, Magnum photographers have reported on and witnessed events around the world which changed societies, nations, and peoples in unpredictable ways. Stuart Franklin’s image of an unarmed man stepping in front of a tank during the 1989 government crackdown on student protesters in Beijing’s Tiananmen Square was an “unexpected act of defiance”. Paul Fusco’s series of images taken from the moving train that bore RFK’s body across the United States created a candid portrait of that nation’s inhabitants at a moment in American history. The work also saw him experimenting with the practical limits of his photography. Raymond Depardon’s photograph of a youth sat astride the Berlin Wall on November 11, 1989 embodies the end of an historical era. Susan Meiselas, covering the 1979 Sandanista revolution in Nicaragua, photographed Pablo ‘Bareta’ Arauz launching a molotov cocktail at a National Guard HQ. This image became an unexpected symbol of revolution, which resonated with a generation and has been reproduced on t-shirts, matchbooks, murals and magazines across the world.

Some images are in themselves surreal, toying with the machinery of the medium or manipulating light and framing to create surprising abstractions. In René Burri’s image, wilting lotus flowers mirrored in Beijing’s Kunming Lake become abstract black scrawls more reminiscent of charcoal on paper than of a photograph. Colby Deal’s image of a silhouette seen through an erratically spray-painted window confuses the viewer. Fellow 2020 nominee Yael Martinez chose an image from his project Firefly, in which he pricked photographs with a pin to allow dots of light to intervene upon the  images. Werner Bischof’s cascading snail-shells recall the words of his famed tutor Hans Fisler: “Bischof’s endeavour is to isolate law and regularity from the apparent chaos of the accidental.” Cristina de Middel’s image — from her series The Afronauts — experiments with recreating a little known historical space program, utilizing costume and staging to flex the limits of what ‘documentary’ photography can be.

Sometimes life simply throws up scenes of incongruity that a fast acting photographer needs only to record: elephants marching in front of the Eiffel Tower, a serpentine procession of tractors, a lone cloud seemingly mirrored as it floats over a bleached outcrop, or an outrageous expression on the face of an elderly passerby. Martin Parr’s image made in Pyongyang toys with the typical portrayals of stony-faced North Korean soldiers by capturing a paternal moment as one carries a small child. Olivia Arthur’s print, depicting well-wrapped skiers about to descend a pristine slope was created in the arid heat of Dubai.

The stories behind the making of images can present unexpected elements. Famed subjects can surprise those assigned to photograph them. Dennis Stock recalled that Audrey Hepburn was “indifferent to her (or anyone else’s) celebrity”. Eve Arnold’s portrait of Marilyn Monroe depicts a side of the superstar alien to most: pensive, withdrawn, and down to earth. For Thomas Hoepker, the surprising aspect of his portrait of Muhammad Ali was that it existed at all: this shot of the fighter’s left fist was re-discovered in 2015 as the photographer delved into a vast collection of negatives.

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. View the full selection here, on the Magnum Shop.

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