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Bruno Barbey’s shot of protesters clashing with cops in Paris in 1968; David Seymour’s photograph of a young Sophia Loren posing on her apartment balcony in 1955; David Hurn’s shots of the Beatles at Abbey Road Studios in 1964; and Thomas Hoepker’s image of Muhammad Ali flexing for the camera in Chicago in 1966: these are a few of the most famous photographs taken by members of the legendary photographer cooperative Magnum Photos. The original contact sheets from these influential shoots, among many others, are now on view at Foam Fotografiemuseum Amsterdam. They reveal the full stories behind iconic images, the less polished shots the photographers chose to leave out.
In conjunction with the exhibition, as part of its first Magnum Seasonal Benefit, Magnum has made prints of these contact sheets available to the public. Contact prints by legendary Magnum photographers, including Martin Parr, Eve Arnold, David Hurn, Elliot Erwitt, Bruno Barbey, Burt Glinn, Guy Le Querrec, Herbert List, Thomas Hoepker, David Seymour, and more, are available starting today. Half of the proceeds from orders of the prints will go to the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC).
In the age of Photoshop and rampant retouching, the old cliche “the camera never lies” no longer holds true. It’s stoked a national obsession with original, unedited images from high-profile photo shoots, especially of celebrities. With the printed contact sheet becoming a thing of the past, this collection of archival negatives plays into that obsession, evoking nostalgia for a time when photographs seemed more trustworthy.
From Burt Glinn’s shots of Elizabeth Taylor on the set of Suddenly Last Summer to Guy Le Querrec’s documentation of the 1969 Paris Jazz Festival, they reveal how these photographers’ dynamic visions shaped their subjects’ legacies. Like reading the unedited, marked-up manuscript of a famous author, these ephemera offer insight into photographers’ creative processes — they remind you just how much work by even the best-known artists never sees the light of day.
Go here to browse the selection of historic Magnum contact prints, available for $175 each until December 1.
Magnum Contact Sheets is on view at Foam Fotografiemuseum Amsterdam (Keizersgracht 609, 1017 DS Amsterdam) until December 9.