From the 4 June, for five days only, signed or estate-stamped, museum quality 6×6” prints will be available to purchase for $100, from more than 70 Magnum photographers – each responding to the theme ‘freedom’.
Fifty years ago, in 1968, the world succumbed to momentous change. It was a seismic year of deep societal and political shifts in the name of freedom. In America particularly, the civil rights movement took hold, Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated, and anti-Vietnam war protests raged. But all over the world, international issues of freedom from oppression, freedom of speech, and political, sexual and religious freedom, also came to the fore as protests racked cities.
To celebrate this year in history, the Magnum Photos June 2018 Square Print Sale is examining the very definition of freedom and its legacy. The works on sale span the last 70 years, and capture both deeply personal, and universal, notions of freedom.
“Freedom is often described with big words, but we encounter it every day in the little things we do,” says Newsha Tavakolian, of her photograph taken in Iran last year. The image shows a young woman hesitating as she enters the sea, surrounded by other figures in and around the water. Limited context is given, but the woman’s sense of freedom is palpable.
The ‘little things’ that Tavakolian describes are a focus of many of the photographs; Martin Parr’s image is of a boldly-dressed woman riding in an open-top car. Emin Özmen’s image shows children running in a wheatfield in Kirklareli, Turkey, enjoying nice weather during the local traditional spring festival. Many of the photographs remind us of our small freedoms, moments when we are able to step outside of ourselves and just be.
Others show darker moments; the risks of freedom, and what it feels like to live without it. Diana Makosian’s portrait is of an 11-year-old boy called Doud, a former refugee now living in Germany, who is confronting his fear of the ocean by learning to swim. For Doud, his trauma is his sacrifice for freedom. A photograph of Martin Luther King Jr. from 1964, taken by Leonard Freed, is also testament to this sacrifice. For King, it is his own life for the greater good.
Often, there are glimmers of joy within these scenes; Jean Gaumy depicts inmates at Saint-Martin-de-Ré Prison in 1978, swinging from bars in the prison courtyard. “Detainees want at all costs to find at least in their bodies a way to assert themselves, a semblance of fulfillment, of confidence in themselves, a type of freedom,” Gaumy elaborates.
Magnum was founded in 1947 as an artists’ co-operative by four pioneering photographers; Henri Cartier-Bresson, Robert Capa, David ‘Chim’ Seymour, and George Rodger. At its core, the legendary photo agency enables photographers to take back control of the copyright to their work. In essence, it allows the artists to have creative freedom. Each year, the Square Print Sale gives buyers the opportunity to buy signed archival-quality prints from a selection of these legendary photographers.
The momentous works available to buy this week also include Stuart Franklin’s photograph of Tiananmen Square in 1989, Bruce Davidson’s powerful portrait of civil rights demonstrators, taken in Alabama in 1965, and Robert Capa’s photograph of the liberation of Paris in 1944.
‘Freedom’ Magnum’s Square Print Sale runs from 8AM EST Monday 4 June until 6PM EST Friday 8 June 2018. Signed and estate stamped, museum quality, 6×6” prints from over 70 artists will exceptionally be available for $100, for five days only, from shop.magnumphotos.com.