Visiting Magnum Photos’ Archives

During their visit to Paris in September 2022, The Cycle partners were invited to visit Magnum Photos’ archives at the agency’s office in Paris.

Founded in 1947, following the aftermath of the Second World War, by four pioneering photographers, Magnum Photos represents some of the world’s most renowned photographers.  Magnum has documented most of the world’s major events and personalities since the 1930s; covering industry, society and people, places of interest, politics and news events, disasters and conflict. 

Introducing the Agency and its archives

Safeguarding the work of all its members for 75 years, Magnum has gathered an unparalleled physical and digital archive. Some of which is preserved by its local offices such as its newly moved Paris office. Part of the archive is being used daily by the agency’s different departments to license, exhibit or spread the photographers’ work and is thus stored in its Parisian premises. It includes part of the photographers’ negatives, contact sheets and a nearly exhaustive library of books published by/about photographers since the creation of the agency. 

© Antoine Wdo

Contact sheets, color slides and negatives: Magnum’s physical archives

The partners had the opportunity to visit the physical archives stored at the Parisian premises starting from the binders of contact sheets, including Robert Capa’s icons. They were also introduced to the photographers’ box sets where prints used to be stored to present photographers to potential clients and partners. The visit finally took them to the cold room where part of the photographers’ negatives and color slides are still on view and digitized by the Magnum’s Production Department. An archive that bears witness to the analog era, but an archive that remains alive and moving through the work of the various departments that keeps valorizing it. 

The Magnum gallery: valorizing the photographers’ archives 

The partners met with Samantha McCoy, Gallery Director at Magnum Paris. She introduced them to the work of the gallery valorizing the photographers’ archives to the general public and particularly among collectors and the art market at large. The visit ended with a preview visit to the partners of the exhibition “Déjà View – Martin Parr & the Anonymous Project” presented at the gallery. 

© Antoine Wdo
© Antoine Wdo
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