New Show Explores 70 Years of Magnum Commercial Photography

‘Open for Business’ highlights 70 years of commercial photography by Magnum artists

‘Open for Business: Magnum Photographers on Commission’ at Foam Amsterdam explores the hidden stories behind six decades of commercial projects by Magnum photographers

The space between a photographer’s independent work and their commercial work is filled with contradictions and connections; it’s rare for one side to exist without a hint of the other. For most, the cycle works like this: personal work attracts commercial clients who want to draw on the artist’s perspective, who then finance the next chapter of personal work, who then win new commissions, and so on.

Both sides nurture each other as they often seek opposing forms of success, as cultural distinctions and financial rewards don’t always align. Perhaps this tension between the two sides propels photographers forward in their search for a balance between aesthetics and ethics.

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

Uncovering this often hidden complexity is ‘Open for Business – Magnum Photographers on Commission’, an exhibition presented by Foam Amsterdam (on display until September 7, 2022). For more than 75 years, Magnum’s roster has taken on a variety of assignments ranging from reporting for NGOs to fashion shoots for the swankiest publications to canned food advertising. Magnum has done it all, while also 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 exhibition chapters take visitors on a journey through assignments at the intersection 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 many more. I

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