Magnum’s Analog Recovery at Le Bal

Leonard Freed. Harlem fashion show, New York, 1963 © Leonard Freed/Magnum Photos

The legendary Magnum photo agency, founded in 1947 by Robert Capa, David “Chim” Seymour, Henri Cartier-Bresson and George Rodger, is an international photo cooperative owned by its members. This year marks the 70th anniversary for the famed photography agency and the completion of its Paris archive. To celebrate Le Bal presents “Magnum Analog Recovery” an exhibition of work from Magnum’s Paris archives that spans from the agency’s creation in 1947 to 1977. This collection—stored in Paris as paper prints— brings together “press”  photos distributed to newspapers and magazines.

“Magnum Analog Recovery”  revisits a time when photojournalists used film and made prints in darkrooms. It includes iconic vintage images such as Robert Capa’s photos of US troops assaulting Omaha Beach during the D-Day landings in Normandy (1944) and lesser known ones by such photographers as Erich Hartmann, Elliot Erwitt and Leonard Freed.

The exhibition is a rare opportunity to see documents circulated to press professionals during the agency’s first thirty years. Now that press photography is totally digital we shall never again see pictures used in this way.  A sign of the times was when the New York Magnum photo agency archives were sold in 2009 to MSD Capital, the investment firm of Michael Dell (Dell Computers) which then donated them to the University of Texas at Austin. The estimated value of the photos was around $200 million.

“Magnum Analog Recovery,” to August 27, 2017, at Le Bal, 6 Impasse de la Défense, 75018 Paris,