Magnum Cinema- selections from the Magnum Photos Archive


September 4 – October 24, 2004

“Magnum Cinema, selections from the Magnum Photos Archive”, features work by legendary Magnum photographers Eve Arnold, Robert Capa, Henri Cartier-Bresson, Bruce Davidson, Elliot Erwitt, Burt Glinn, Susan Meiselas, Alex Webb, and many others.

These photographers bring a new set of visual conventions to the task of documenting cinema. The exhibit on display at CPW was culled from over 5,000 Magnum photographs – many of which were previously unpublished – and reveals the remarkable encounter between a family of photographers and the cinematic universe spanning a half of century.

The world of cinema is geographically unique – a nomadic tribe – dispersed around the planet, reunited by the cry of the film director. For Magnum Cinema the great and lasting friendship between the film director John Huston and Magnum founder, Robert Capa marks a very important starting point. Equally flamboyant, joyful and charming, their boisterous games of poker became legendary – expressing a passion for life that exemplified the worlds of cinema and photography. Capa first began to combine the talents of great photographers with those of great directors and actors over half a century ago. These partnerships and their storyline developed around lasting, personal relationships, based on mutual trust and shared intimacy.

The photographs take us behind the scenes to some of the most important movie sets in our time, including On the Waterfront, The Seven Year Itch, Superman, Suddenly Last Summer, Notorious, and powerfully picture legends including Marilyn Monroe, Ingrid Bergman, James, Dean, Elizabeth Taylor, and Clark Gable, to name just a few!

A highlight within this show are the photographs which document the making of The Misfits, directed by John Huston and starring Marilyn Monroe, Clark Gable, and Montgomery Clift. The Magnum agency’s exclusive rights to cover the filming of The Misfits inspired all the photographers who took part. The movie became legendary not only because it was the last picture that Marilyn Monroe and Clark Gable ever made, but it also mirrored the private life of the stars with uncanny accuracy. The movie was about the disappearance of a way of life, a recurring theme in John Huston’s films and without knowing it, the photographers present were witnessing the end of an era – that of the cinema idol, which did not survive into the sixties.

Around the 1960s, film relinquished the rarefied atmosphere of the studio for that of real life. Today the public no longer expects stars to be inaccessible, distant from common mortals. The modern actress is someone with whom we must each be able to identify and in whom we must be able to see ourselves, even if that small, magical, intangible difference is still the decisive importance for the camera.

Traveling far from the crowds and the media coverage of Cannes and Venice, Magnum photographers are above all photojournalists who also photograph the other side of the mirror: streets in Cairo, Bombay or Tokyo where the dreams promised by the film posters stand in contrast to life’s realities.

In this exhibit we celebrate cinema and the power of the image to transport us to diverse and imagined worlds.

This exhibition is made possible in part with support from Magnum Photos

and is presented in conjunction with the 2004 Woodstock Film Festival, which will take place from October 13- 17th.