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Culture & Communication

The Magnum Square Print Sale

June 6 – 10, 2016


Magnum Photos co-founder Henri Cartier-Bresson is synonymous with the idea of ‘the decisive moment’, a critical idea in the theory and history of photography. In this Square Print Project the agency looks back at the impact and legacy of Cartier-Bresson, his influence on contemporary photography and the ways in which the decisive moment is manifest in the work of Magnum photographers today.

For five days only, prints by Magnum photographers which respond to the meaning of the decisive moment, are available to buy as signed, museum quality, 6×6” square prints, exceptionally priced at just $100. Including both classic and contemporary photography, over 70 works by Martin Parr, Alex Webb, René Burri, Elliott Erwitt, Tim Hetherington, Newsha Tavakolian, Peter van Agtmael, Eve Arnold and many more Magnum photographers are available for a limited time only.

The notion of the decisive moment was coined by Cartier-Bresson’s English language publisher Simon & Schuster in 1952, translating the French title of the book, Images à la Sauvette. Cartier-Bresson annotated Martin Parr’s personal copy to read ‘The More or Less Decisive Moment(s)’, hinting at the plurality and ambiguity of its meaning.

Every photographer within Magnum Photos has been invited to select an image from their archive and to reflect upon how the photographic concept of the decisive moment influences their practice. Accompanied by personal written responses, these images and texts create a collective portrait of the critical thinking that defines the agency.

The works included in the Square Print sale are intended to spark debate around the meaning of the decisive moment. What goes through a photographer’s mind when capturing a shot? What are the moral or ethical implications in the quest to find the decisive moment? What part does the unconscious play? Is the realization of a decisive moment always in the present, or can that come later? Is there even such a thing as the decisive moment?


Magnum Photos was founded in Paris in 1947 as an artists’ co-operative by four pioneering photographers, Henri Cartier-Bresson, Robert Capa, David “Chim” Seymour, and George Rodger, The legendary photo agency continues to shape photographic practice and maintains its original values of uncompromising excellence, truth, respect and independence, representing an idiosyncratic mix of journalist, artist and storyteller. Magnum photographers share a vision to chronicle world events, people, places and culture with a powerful narrative that defies convention, shatters the status quo, redefines history and transforms lives.

From the outset, Magnum Photos pioneered an experimental and entrepreneurial approach to the creation of photography as both art and journalistic tool. Next year, Magnum Photos will celebrate its 70th anniversary. Ahead of this significant milestone, the agency will embark on a number of new initiatives, including the launch of an innovative publishing platform; fulfilling our ambition to deeply connect the Magnum audience to our photographers and our stories.
The Magnum Square Print Sale takes place at the Magnum Photos Online Shop:shop.magnumphotos.com.
It is open from Monday, June 6th, 2016, at 9AM EST until Friday, June 10th, 2016, at 6PM EST.

During the sale, and for five days only, over 70 archival quality prints, signed by the photographers are available for just $100.

Magnum Square Prints are printed on 6 x 6” (15.24cm x 15.24cm) archival paper. They are not editioned by quantity, but editioned by time, as these items will not be made available outside the sale window. The images in each sale are always different, and will never be available in this format again.

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