New show explores 70 years of Magnum commercial photography

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“Open for Business” highlights 70 years of commercial photography by Magnum artists

Foam Amsterdam’s “Open for Business: Magnum Photographers on Commission” explores the hidden stories behind a 60-year-old commercial project by Magnum photographers.

The space between the photographer’s independent work and their commercial work is full of contradictions and connections. It is rare for one to exist without the hint of the other. In most cases, the cycle works as follows: Personal work attracts commercial clients who want to take advantage of the artist’s perspective, which funds the next chapter of the personal work and then draws in new fees.

Cultural praise and monetary rewards are not always in line, so both sides fuel each other, often seeking the opposite form of success. Perhaps the tension between these two aspects advances photographers seeking a balance between aesthetics and ethics.

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

Uncovering this often-hidden complexity is the exhibition presented by Foam Amsterdam, “Open for Business – Magnum Photographers on Commission” (displayed until September 7, 2022). For over 75 years, Magnum’s roster has undertaken a variety of tasks, from NGO reports to fashion photography for the most chic publications to promoting canned food. Magnum did it all and at the same time created 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 exhibition chapters take visitors on a journey of challenges that occupy the crossroads of art, documentary and commerce.

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 more. §

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