1968 was a seismic year of deep societal and political shifts - all in the name of freedom. International issues of freedom from oppression, freedom of speech, political, sexual and religious freedom all came to the fore as student protests racked cities, declarations of independence were made, and in America particularly, the civil rights movement took hold, Martin Luther King was assassinated, whilst anti-Vietnam war protests concurrently emerged.
Fifty years on, the Magnum Photos June 2018 Square Print Sale
examines both the definition of freedom, and the legacy of this quest for freedom through the work of Magnums photographers. Inviting a wide interpretation of the theme, the project includes iconic images that have defined and documented humanitys quest for freedom over the past 70 years, and the deeply personal images that symbolize creative freedom.
From Stuart Franklins photograph of Tiananmen Square in 1989, to Bruce Davidson and Leonard Freeds images of the US civil rights movement, and Robert Capas photograph of the liberation of Paris in 1944, the project creates a potted history of the 20th century. These well-known works are presented alongside personal images that demonstrate photography itself is a tool of freedom symbolizing freedom of speech and subjectivity. Photography can document the quest for and limitations of freedom, and as a medium has enabled many artists to find a voice and an identity through unhampered creative practice.
When Magnum was founded, in 1947, one of its core principles was to enable photographers to take back control over the copyright to their work while simultaneously giving them freedom over the choice of stories they wanted to cover. Ever since, Magnum photographers work has been imbued with a sense of freedom, both in the personal approaches to their work and in the themes and subjects they explore.
For the first Square Print Sale of 2018, Magnums photographers and estates have responded to the theme in images and texts, exploring their own relationship to freedom and what it means to them.