New exhibition explores 70 years of Magnum commercial photography

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“Open for Business” highlights seven decades of commercial photography by Magnum artists

‘Open for Business: Magnum Photographers on Commission’ at Foam Amsterdam explores the stories behind Magnum photographers’ business ventures

The space between a photographer’s freelance work and their commercial work is filled with contradictions and connections; one side rarely exists without a hint of the other. For the most part, the cycle works as follows: personal work attracts commercial clients who seek to build on the artist’s point of view, who then funds the next chapter of personal work, which then attracts new commissions, And so on.

Both parties feed each other while pursuing often opposing forms of success, as cultural rewards and financial rewards are not always aligned. Perhaps this tension between the two camps propels photographers forward in their search for a balance between aesthetics and ethics.

Gucci make-up fashion shoot, Brooklyn, New York, USA, 2019. © Bruce Gilden/Magnum Photos

“Open for Business – Magnum Photographers on Commission”, an exhibition presented by Foam Amsterdam (until September 7, 2022) reveals this often hidden complexity. For more than 75 years, Magnum’s list has taken on a variety of commissions ranging from reporting for NGOs to fashion shoots for the fanciest publications to advertising for canned goods. Magnum has done it all, while creating some of the most memorable images of our time.

Curated by Anne-Marie Beckmann, director of the Deutsche Börse Photography Foundation, and Mirjam Kooiman, curator of Foam, eight chapters of the exhibition take visitors on a journey through missions that occupy the intersection of art, documentary and trade.

Artists include Olivia Arthur, Henri Cartier-Bresson, Bruce Davidson, Elliott Erwitt, Jean Gaumy, Bruce Gilden, Jim Goldberg, Harry Gruyaert, Alex Majoli, Steve McCurry, Cristina de Middel, Rafal Milach, Inge Morath, Trent Parke, Martin Parr , Paolo Pellegrin, Gueorgui Pinkhassov, Mark Power, Alessandra Sanguinetti, Alec Soth, Newsha Tavakolian and many more. §

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