When you work long enough in any field, it seems, you’ll develop a specialty — the subject or project you’re always drawn to, and execute with particular passion. This is the critical theory at work in Obsessions, a new collection of images from the renowned photographers at Magnum.
To assemble this collection, according to the company, its photographers and their estates plunged into the archives, “to select a single image that reflects the issues, working practices and visual signatures which have obsessed the collective’s members throughout their careers.” The results are available for sale, signed and estate stamped, from their website. Here are a few highlights:
(Magnum Photos)Christopher Anderson Pia with balloon in Gràcia. Barcelona, Spain. 2016. “I chose this image because I notice a couple of my obsessions in it. The first, most obviously, is my obsession with photographing my family. I’m told that the color red often appears in my photographs. Perhaps that qualifies as obsession. And, I really love The Red Balloon, by Albert Lamorisse … but I wouldn’t call it an obsession.” © Christopher Anderson/Magnum Photos
New York City, USA. 2000. “I am obsessed with dogs—because they remind me of people but with more hair.” © Elliott Erwitt/Magnum Photos
A boy plays in the Rivière des Galets. Réunion. 1991. “When traveling and photographing, you have to establish human contact while remaining discreet. Luck sometimes plays a role too. This boy was cleaning his bicycle in a spring and playing with it; my luck was that he wore green shorts matching the color of his bike. The result is a strange and surreal setting in which the boy seems to ride his bicycle under water. Photography is the only language that can be understood anywhere in the world.” © Bruno Barbey/Magnum Photos
Stable, horse, pool and house planned by architect Luis Barragán. Cuadra San Cristóbal, Mexico. 1976. “René Burri’s personal tribute to the spirit of Luis Barragán.” — Clotilde Burri Blanc, wife of René Burri © René Burri/Magnum Photos
Gawker. Tunbridge, Vermont, USA. 1974. “He looks at her. She may or may not be looking at him. He dreams and delights in her moves. She may or may not be moving for him.” © Susan Meiselas/Magnum Photos
Door to Hell. Darvaza, Turkmenistan. 2009. “The enigmatic qualities of photography are a continuing obsession in my work. I made this picture while working on myTwo Rivers project in Central Asia. The site is locally known as the ‘Door to Hell.’ The 69-meter-wide crater has been burning natural gas since 1971 when Soviet petroleum engineers, concerned about contaminating the air after an excavating accident, tried to burn off the remaining gas by lighting it on fire. The picture doesn’t show any of this, though. The scale of time and space remain a puzzle in the image, pointing to the difficulty of perceiving the scope of human impact on the planet.” © Carolyn Drake/Magnum Photos
Sapporo, Japan. 2016. “Inspired by my favorite photobook, Ravens by Masahisa Fukase, I traveled to Hokkaido, Japan, by train in 2016. I hired an assistant but she was not a photographer, nor did she speak English. I was curious to see what would happen spending so much time alone with a person with whom I wasn’t able to communicate. She and I took 13 trains together in Hokkaido, but I barely learned anything about her. Looking at pictures of her now is like remembering a dream.” © Alec Soth/Magnum Photos
Cristina de Middel
Puebla, Mexico. 2019. “I moved to Mexico in 2014, but in my mind I had been living there way before. At once unreal, surreal and incredibly harsh, like a comedy, drama and romantic movie playing at the same time on a surreal screen. I’ve been obsessed with making the portrait of Mexico for years now; the closer I believe I get, the farther I feel I am. This picture was shot near Puebla. It was the first time I saw the volcano Popocatépetl after dreaming of it so many times. I spent three days trying to make a picture that could explain my feelings while standing so close to such a phenomenal stone beast. Using a portrait of Benito Juárez–a preeminent symbol of Mexican nationalism and resistance to foreign intervention–helped me to convey the unique dynamic there is between nature and culture, both of which are so powerful and especially relevant today in Mexico.” © Cristina de Middel/Magnum Photos
Buffalo, NY, USA. 2011. “I am endlessly intrigued by the landscape of Buffalo, New York, where I grew up. As a kid, I picked up a camera in response to the look and feel of the place. The first thing I photographed there were the houses, which have remained a point of fascination for me.” © Gregory Halpern/Magnum Photos
Harlem Street Scene. New York City. 1987. “My obsession is looking at life as it is instead of what it should be.” © Eli Reed/Magnum Photos
Photomontage. Zurich, Switzerland. 1941. “Werner Bischof … thinks and works from the start in photographic terms. He uses the graphic elements of photography to suit his ends, which are the crystallization and interpretation of the object. He finds new and untapped possibilities of photographic approach and technique unknown to the creative artist who sets out from the principles of draughtsmanship.” — Hans Finsler, Graphis magazine, 1945 © Werner Bischof/Magnum Photos
Marilyn Monroe during the filming of The Misfits. Nevada, USA. 1960. “Our obsession isn’t going to stop for a long time yet. . . . There is no one remotely close to Monroe and I don’t think there ever will be.” — David Thomson in “Why do we still love Marilyn Monroe?” by Lena Corner, The Independent, November 5, 2010 © Cornell Capa © International Center of Photography/Magnum Photos
Magnum’s Square Print Sale Obsessions runs from today, June 10, until midnight EST on Friday, June 14. Signed and estate stamped, museum quality prints from over 80 artists will be available for $100, for these five days only, from shop.magnumphotos.com.