On November 20, 2009, Magnum
, the legendary photo collective, will open a gallery in the heart of Saint Germain des Prés, in the former exhibition spaces of Robert Delpire, one of Frances most distinguished publishers and photography connoisseurs. The opening exhibition, "Demain/Hier" (tomorrow/yesterday) will be curated by Robert Delpire himself and will focus on the new generation of Magnum photographers, set against the backdrop of those who founded the photographers collective decennia ago.
With one existing gallery in Montmartre, the opening of a space at the whirling core of Saint Germain not only positions Magnum in the epicenter of an illustrious and vivifying arts neighborhood, it also takes the collective right back to its origins which were deeply rooted in Pariss Left Bank. This history will be the background against which an engaging program of commercial exhibitions, lectures and events will be set, aimed at revealing the personality as much as the work of all eighty Magnum members.
The journey of Magnum and the journey of photography as a widely understood and appreciated medium, have run parallel courses, said Julien Frydman, Director of Magnum Paris. The more photography becomes democratized, the more it will need points of reference. This will be Gallery St. Germains main goal: to connect the incomparable drive of these fantastic photographers with the receptive minds and souls of an audience eager to discover and sense our world.
The Saint Germain des Prés district is pulsing from morning till night and as beloved by the intellectual and artistic crowd as it is by shoppers and café visitors. So when Robert Delpire offered the gallery spaces at the foot of the Saint Germain des Prés church to Magnum Photos, it was a natural move for Magnum Gallery to come back to its original roots in this energetic and accessible Parisian quartier and to establish a pendant to its uptown space in Montmartre. Very much driven and inspired by the character of the neighborhood, Magnum Gallery Saint Germains core concepts are openness and exchange. The work of Magnum photographers will be exhibited in different formats and in such a way that the seasoned collector as well as the passer-by will feel tempted to visit 13, rue de lAbbaye, to talk, to browse through, to discover and to acquire a piece of Magnums history or future.
Three main exhibition chapters will run in the Magnum Gallery at any given moment in time and all four have different dimensions and budgetary entry level: the Special Edition/Edition spéciale, the Curated Exhibitions and the Storyboxes. Next to these temporary displays, the gallery will also have a library section where signed copies, limited editions and other Magnum publications can be consulted and purchased.
The Special Edition/Edition Spéciale
At all times, the front window facing the rue de lAbbaye will display one large image and its accompanying story. Printed, unframed and attached with magnets all references to the initial editorial spirit of Magnum this image will serve as a large welcome sign, beckoning the passers-by to walk in and enquire. The image will be renewed at regular intervals and will be sourced from the Magnum archives or from freshly produced work. Some of the window images will be made available to the public in a limited poster format edition. The stories will be written by the photographers themselves or by contributors actors, writers, thinkers, artists etc and will reflect their first impressions or interpretations of the image on view.
The Curated Exhibitions
Curated monographic and thematic exhibitions will take place on a continuous basis in a somewhat fluid manner. The monographic shows will put the spotlight on one particular photographer and his work and this selection will remain constant throughout the duration of the show. The thematic expos will display photographs by different Magnum photographers with a chosen theme as leitmotiv. During the full exhibition run, works may change place or be replaced by other images, which will give the thematic shows a sense of fluidity and resilience at the same time. These shows mainly aim to present new and rediscovered Magnum work and will focus on the individualities of the Magnum photographers. Works can be obtained in a price range of 1.000 to 10.000 euro.
This segment of the Magnum Gallery will offer the rare and collectible items. Covering the entire back wall of the gallery, eighty archival boxes will contain significant parts of the stories, lives and work of each and every Magnum member. Whether vintage photographs, signed books and documents, or rare images, all of these items will have a very direct and intimate link not just to the photographer but also to the person behind the photographers façade. The entire box or parts of its content (depending on its make-up) will be available for sale and the selection will be renewed twice a year. The first Magnum Gallery in Montmartre, 19 rue Hégésippe Moreau will continue its activities with a program of two curated exhibitions a year. From November 12 through January 29, 2010, the Magnum Gallery Montmartre will exhibit photographs by Inge Morath in "First Color", an exhibition curated by John Jacob (the director of the Inge Morath Foundation) and Valerie Fougeirol. "First Color" will be accompanied by a book published by Steidl Verlag.
Opening exhibition - "Demain/Hier"
Completely in line with the overall esprit of the Magnum gallery "Saint Germain", its opening exhibition had to be a collective one. An emphasis will be put upon the work of the new generation, which will in turn be framed by work which reflects the Magnum saga. As Magnum has been a fluid continuum over the past 60 years, the definition of new has been arbitrarily chosen and refers to those photographers who have become members in 2000 or later. Among the highlighted young generation works feature photographs by Alec Soth, Trent Parke, Mark Power, Jim Goldberg, Alessandra Sanguinetti, Paolo Pellegrin, Thomas Dworzak and Cristina Garcia Rodero. The pivotal figures are Larry Towell who became a member in 1993 and Carl de Keyzer who joined Magnum in 1994.
The inimitable Robert Delpire mounted the barricades to fight for the cause of photography and its popularization almost six decades ago and has not left this position unattended ever since. Determined and extremely persuasive, Bobs personal mission was to open up the photography medium to a large and always larger audience and as his drive was boundless, so was the variety of ways in which he showed not only how to look but also what to look for. His avant-garde photo magazines such as Neuf and LOeil; his film and television productions; the numerous photography exhibitions in his Parisian gallery and the creation of the legendary publication Photo-Poche, the first series of pocket books totally devoted to photography, contributed immensely to the popularization of photography on an international level. He was appointed Head of the National Center of Photography by French minister of culture Jack Lang in 1982 and used his position to tirelessly continue his public awareness rising activities for the cause of photography. Under his leadership at the CNP, more than 150 thematic and monographic exhibitions were mounted worldwide. He resigned from this post in 1996 and is still actively involved in the exhibition and publishing circuit.
Throughout this trajectory, his friendships and associations with Magnum photographers have always been a leitmotiv and a source of inspiration. It is this sense of camaraderie and empathy but also of respect and admiration which has characterized his collaborations with Magnum ever since its beginnings which will also be reflected in "Demain/Hier".