Magnum Photos launches its 70th-anniversary program in New York with an exhibition of some of the agency’s earliest photographs taken around the city.

Magnum Photos launches its 70th-anniversary program in New York City in tandem with this year’s AIPAD fair, with an exhibition of photographs taken during the early years of the agency in the city. The photographs in the exhibition will be presented simultaneously at the National Arts Club Grand Gallery and also on the Magnum website.

The show combines the classic images taken in the 1950s by Magnum members such as Bruce Davidson, Elliott Erwitt, Erich Hartmann and Dennis Stock along with archival pictures of the agency’s New York office.

Exhibition, Early Magnum: On & In New York, portrays the workings of the organization and its community of enterprising members in dialogue with the city that has been Magnum Photos’ U.S. home, and a source of inspiration for its photographers, since its founding in 1947.

As the legend goes, Magnum Photos was founded over a magnum of champagne at the Museum of Modern Art by Robert Capa and took its name from that particularly generous-sized bottle. Opening a bureau in both Paris and New York in 1947, the New York office at 55 West 8th Street was first run by Rita Vandivert, wife of photographer William Vandivert. Empty magnum bottles serve as a reminder of Capa’s favourite drink and particular brand of joie du vivre. One sits on a shelf where a young Elliott Erwitt and his first wife sit with their baby daughter, in a candid, early shot of the agency office by Werner Bischof.

The Magnum Photos office on 64th Street. From left to right: Ellen Erwitt, Lucienne Erwitt, Elliott Erwitt, Olga Brodsky and Sheernah. New York City, NY, USA. 1953. © Werner Bischof

The agency fizzed with pioneer spirit, its independence reshaping the relationship between magazines and photographers, with the latter reclaiming copyright for their own benefit. Its membership grew in size to match its founders’ ambitions – incorporating as full members Arnold, Cornell Capa, Erwitt, Glinn, Hartmann and Stock in 1954, Morath in 1955, Miller and Davidson in 1958, and Burri in 1959, amongst others over the course of that decade.

Included in the exhibit are estate-stamped prints and signed contemporary prints of some of Magnum’s best-known images of the city and its inhabitants: Davidson’s intimate portraits of the youthful, self-possessed members of a Brooklyn Gang, Stock’s iconic image of James Dean in Times Square, Erwitt’s image of his wife and first child, and Arnold’s Harlem Fashion show.

For the first time, the photographs in the exhibition will be presented simultaneously at the National Arts Club Grand Gallery and on the Magnum website, where they will be available to purchase online.


Burt Glinn on TV. New York City, NY, USA. 1955. © Erich Hartmann

This event is not ticketed and free to the public.

29 March 2017 – 28 April 2017 ( Add to Calendar )
The National Arts Club, Grand Gallery, 15 Gramercy Park South, New York, NY, 10003

Join in celebrating Magnum’s 70th anniversary throughout 2017. Bookmark their anniversary hub to find seminal stories, new work, and discover what Magnum events are happening near you.