Magnum Photos has contributed more than 116,000 journalistic photographs to the Artstor Digital Library. The selection spans the globe from Alaska to the Amazon and Oman to the Arctic Circle.
Matt Murphy, Magnum’s Archives and Production Manager, identifies some of the most enduring and recognized images: “Student researchers would certainly find some of the subject matter familiar: Robert Capa’s blurry D-Day series, Dennis Stock’s image of James Dean in a rainy Times Square, Marc Riboud’s photo of a hippie woman presenting a flower to rifle-armed National Guardsmen, Stuart Franklin’s Tank Man in Tiananmen Square, and Steve McCurry’s haunting portrait of the green-eyed Afghan Girl. But, these and other iconic photos are only the tip of the vast visual iceberg that constitutes the Magnum archive.” The varied subjects of this vast and varied collective body of work support research in History, Literature, Urbanism, the Environment and Sustainability, Human Geography, Identity Studies, and other areas impacted by human endeavor or natural forces.
For seven decades, Magnum’s documentary photographers have been recording events, people, and phenomena from the Spanish Civil War to Vietnam to the present day. They have produced some of the most challenging images of the 20th century and contemporary life: depicting societies, celebrities, industry, landscapes, politics, disasters, and conflict. Magnum’s roster includes dozens of prominent names like Henri Cartier-Bresson, Robert Capa, Eve Arnold, Rene Burri, Elliott Erwitt, Josef Koudelka, Hiroji Kubota, Susan Meiselas, Martin Parr, Alex Webb, whose award-winning work has appeared in publications such as Life, Paris Match, and Picture Post, and is included in museums worldwide.The collection also documents present-day concerns with photographs from geopolitical hotspots like Fukushima, Donetsk, and Aleppo.
Magnum Photos International, Inc. was founded as a co-operative in 1947 by Capa, Cartier-Bresson, George Rodger, and David “Chim” Seymour. They were motivated by what they had seen during World War II and a desire to explore the world that had survived in its aftermath. Cartier-Bresson described Magnum as “a community of thought, a shared human quality, a curiosity about what is going on in the world, a respect for what is going on and a desire to transcribe it visually.” The founders sought to preserve the independence of individual photographers and their creative visions, establishing a cooperative that allowed them to work outside the conventions of magazine journalism. Not only is Magnum owned by its member-photographers but they also retain copyright to their work. Over the decades, this autonomy has enabled them to build an outstanding body of collective work, representing the pinnacle of the photojournalist’s craft.