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The Magnum Square Print Sale: Way for Escape

Posted on July 12, 2021 - By Magnum Photos
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The Magnum Square Print Sale: Way for Escape
The Magnum Square Print Sale: Way for Escape

July 12 -July 18, 2021

Over ninety signed or estate-stamped, museum-quality 6x6" prints by Magnum Photos photographers for $100, available for one week only.

Exploring the push and pull of breaking free, this curated selection of Magnum's July Square Print Sale comes at a time when many have been confined at home or unable to travel for long periods due to the ongoing pandemic. It brings together 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 traveling in search of an external subject, or finding answers which lie within.


Nanna Heitmann

Tuva Republic. Russia. 2018. From 'Hiding from Baba Yaga'. 2018.© Nanna Heitmann/ Magnum Photos

"For time immemorial, people have sought protection and freedom on the banks of the Yenisei River and in the adjacent wild taiga. For a long time, the banks of the Yenisei have been pervaded by nomadic people. The Russians, coming from the west, chased by their greed for valuable fur, did not reach the river until 1607. Criminals, escaped serfs, apostates or simply adventurers, joined together in wild rider associations and expanded ever deeper into the vast wild forest. The life of the settlers in Siberia was free and self-determined.
Another community to occupy the lonely banks of the Yenisei River were the Old Believers. A small ferry boat is the only connection to Erzhey, the village of Old Believers. This group turned against the reforms of the Patriarch Nikon, who revised the texts and rites of Russian Orthodox worship in 1652. Many of them had to flee to the most remote areas of Russia: first from the Tsar, later from the Soviets. Along the upper reaches of the small Yenisei, there are many small villages of Old Believers, which try to live self-sufficiently, and maintain the old liturgical and ritual practices of the Russian Church."

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. 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. Some images capture the promise and anticipation of traveling to a new destination, like in Christopher Anderson's image, where sunlit fingertips brush the window of an airplane. Philippe Halsman's composition translates the lightness of airborne travel into a feeling, as ballet dancer Edward Vilella leaps through the air, mirroring the shape of a stationary aircraft behind him.


Werner Bishof

Southern part of the country. USA. 1954. © Estate of Werner Bishof/ Magnum Photos

"1954 - Werner Bischof was able to embark on his major tour of the American South. His wife Rosellina, who was travelling with him, noted: 'It's the beginning of February and we are ready: tomorrow morning we leave New York fully laden and full of plans. Werner has a movie camera and a tape recorder with him. It's going to be a fantastic trip! We'll learn Spanish in the car, and can't wait to reach the Mexican border."

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, 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. 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 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, and in Alec Soth's image, Cammy the cockatiel enjoys the view from her window in Salt Lake City.


W. Eugene Smith

'Guardia Civil'. Spanish Village. 1951 © 2021 The Heirs of W. Eugene Smith/ Magnum Photos

"LIFE magazine staff photographer W. Eugene Smith traveled to Spain in 1950 to document repression and poverty under the harsh regime of its dictator, Francisco Franco. Smith embedded himself in the small town of Deleitosa, where he spent a month gaining the trust of the villagers, along with the suspicion of Franco's brutal military police, the Guardia Civil.
Acclaimed for containing several of Smith's most iconic photographs, the 'Spanish Village' photo essay appeared in the April 9, 1951, issue of LIFE. The most searing image was of three members of the Guardia Civil, who kept the townspeople of Deleitosa in line through fear and intimidation. The original caption simply read: 'These stern men, enforcers of national law, are Franco's rural police. They patrol [the] countryside, [and] are feared by people in villages, which also have local police.'
While the villagers could not leave, Smith had to fashion his own way to escape Spain. Shortly after he captured this image, the Guardia Civil paid Smith a visit and questioned him about the film he had shot in Deleitosa. When they left, he told his interpreter: 'Let us pass up our remaining, rather unimportant pictures, and get the hell out of here while I still have the film.' He woke up his assistant and they left at 4:00 a.m. to flee across the border into France" - Kevin Eugene Smith, Estate of W. Eugene Smith

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, transcending the material conditions of their homelessness and addiction.

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.


Bruno Barbey

Moulay Ismael Mausoleum, Meknes, Morocco. 1985. © Bruno Barbey/ Magnum Photos

"The photographer must learn to merge into the walls. Photos must either be taken swiftly, with all the attendant risks, or only after long periods of infinite patience. Such was the price of these images… The memory of Morocco can only be captured with respect."


Raymond Depardon

Libyan truck transporting people between Chad and Libya. 1978 © Raymond Depardon/ Magnum Photos

"The truck left the palm grove this morning before daylight. The women sit well up front, the men sit behind. I have often ridden on these trucks to go up north and out of the desert."


Inge Morath

Reno, Nevada, USA. 1960. © Inge Morath/ Magnum Photos

"We arrived in Reno on the evening of the 17th. Into a world so different from the loneliness of the trip, the world of a movie being started. It is difficult to describe the last extraordinary days, although they are still very much alive. Their colors are still fresh and, when I close my eyes, the road still seems to be passing in front of me, running straight and hot through the desert.." - Inge Morath; July 19, 1960. In The Road to Reno, Steidl, 2006.


Moises Saman

Giza, Greater Cairo, Egypt. 2013. © Moises Saman/ Magnum Photos

There is no respite for the energy that surrounds you in Cairo, truly one of the greatest cities in the world. The closest thing to a resting place that I found during the time I lived there was amid the ruins of the magnificent Pyramids of Giza.


Steve McCurry

Rajasthan, India. 1983. © Steve McCurry/ Magnum Photos

"I was driving down a road between Jodhpur and Jaisalmer in Rajasthan, India. It was sunny and sweltering hot at about 110°F (43°C), when the sky suddenly went dark and a pre-monsoon dust storm began. As the storm got stronger and more dramatic, the air became thick with dust. Through the haze, I could see these women huddled together off the side of the road protecting themselves from the driving wind. This region had been suffering from a drought for more than a decade and the women were singing a prayer for rain. 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."

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