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Istanbul Modern presents unforgettable photographs from Magnum Photos

  • Published by Ozgur Tore

Thomas Hoepker NYC

The latest exhibition at Istanbul Modern’s Photography Gallery, “Magnum – Contact Sheets” explores the creation processes of photographs from Magnum Photos, one of the world’s most prestigious photography agencies. It is the second exhibition of Magnum Photos at Istanbul Modern; “Turkey by Magnum”, was hosted by Istanbul Modern February 17 and May 20, 2007, brought together Magnum Photos photographs on Turkey for the very first time.

Sponsored by BASF Turk as part of their 150th anniversary celebrations, the exhibition includes 133 works by 58 artists. Organized in cooperation with Magnum Photos, Forte di Bard and Thames & Hudson, “Magnum – Contact Sheets” focuses on the analogue age of photography with works comprising the visual history of more than eighty years.

Magnum photos1

On view through August 2, 2015, the new exhibition demonstrates the great influence of these works on visual culture from the past century through to our contemporary age through the contact sheets of legendary photographs. Co-curated by Lorenza Bravetta and Gabriele Accornero, “Magnum – Contact Sheets” brings together select works by world-renowned photographers, including Henri Cartier-Bresson, Robert Capa, Elliot Erwitt, Eve Arnold, Josef Koudelka, René Burri.

The exhibition gives visitors remarkable access and insight into the decision-making processes of many of Magnum’s famous members through the inclusion of first-person accounts. The texts accompanying the contact sheets, gleaned from the book “Magnum – Contact Sheets”, published by Thames & Hudson, tell the stories behind the artists’ work.

magnum contactsheets

With the development of digital technologies and their huge impact on photographic production, this exploration of photography’s analogue age sets out to both investigate and celebrate a technique that is becoming increasingly historical; to provide an “epitaph”, in the words of Martin Parr. In the exhibition, contact sheets and photographs are accompanied by close-up details, articles, books and magazine spreads.

Oya Eczacıbaşı, Chair of the Board of Istanbul Modern, explained that the exhibition “Magnum – Contact Sheets” encompassed visuals documenting cultural, political and social history from across the world by Magnum photographers from the 1930s to the present-day. “Those Magnum members whose works are displayed in the exhibition convey the stories of their photographic processes, how they reach the ‘decisive moment’ after films are developed, and how they carefully select the final images from several contact sheets. By seeing the contact sheets, which are in a sense the ‘logbooks’ of the photographer, the viewer witnesses how these unforgettable photographs created the visual history of an 80-year epoch.”

Oya Eczacıbaşı added that the exhibition served as an homage to the analogue age, a method of photography now lost to the development of digital technology, and provided an opportunity to see the unique photographs taken by those who experienced serendipity during photographic processes: “who were at the right place at the right time” and who captured the zeitgeist.

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