Interview with Magnum Photos (London & Paris) | PHOTOFAIRS

Interview with Magnum Photos (London & Paris)

Founded in 1947 by Robert Capa, Henri Cartier-Bresson, David 'Chim' Seymour and George Rodger, Magnum Photos was created to reflect their independent natures as both people and photographers - the idiosyncratic mix of reporter and artist that continues to define Magnum. Magnum Photos is now the oldest surviving artists' cooperative in the world; represents the works of over 70 photographers, comprising a wide variety of imagery available as fine photographs.


PHOTOFAIRS | Shanghai will celebrate its fifth anniversary in China this year and we are delighted that Magnum Photos has participated in every edition. Why did you decide to join PHOTOFAIRS | Shanghai and continue your participation?

PHOTOFAIRS | Shanghai offers us a unique platform to present Magnum’s work to the Chinese market in person. Magnum’s photographers have a long history of working individually in China, but there have been few opportunities to present the breadth of our membership as a brand and to the photography community in person. The first fair came at a time when we were actively seeking the opportunity to do this.

© MARC RIBOUD, Two wrestlers in Beijing, 1957. Courtesy of Magnum Photos (London & Paris)

What will you present at PHOTOFAIRS | Shanghai this year?

This year we are showing work produced in China by three Magnum photographers. We will juxtapose a group of classic Marc Riboud’s with that of two important contemporary photographers: a recent commission produced in Beijing by Jim Goldberg, exhibited here for the first time, and a cityscape by Alec Soth. Both should be present at the time of the fair.

© ALEC SOTH, Chongqing, China, 2008. Courtesy of Magnum Photos (London & Paris)

How has the work that you have presented changed over the last 5 editions?

At the beginning, we really didn’t know very much about the market and came with quite a broad range of content. Now, we have developed client relationships, alongside increasing visibility for our contemporary practitioners, we are happy to show a more focused selection.

Do you think the audiences for the Fair have developed over this period?

We can certainly see how the fair has changed and refined over the past four years and that is reflected in the audience. As the fair’s position has grown, there has also been an increase in international visitors. The market does have its challenges for outside galleries, notably the tax and slow process of import, but this is a long game for us and we believe that our commitment will translate into increased sales going forward.

 © JIM GOLDBERG, China, 2017. Courtesy of Magnum Photos (London & Paris)

Since the Fair launched in 2014, the market for photography in China has greatly developed.  What do you see as the key developments in the market over this time?

There seems to be an increased engagement with and knowledge of contemporary international photographers and better awareness of the value of vintage material.

Looking forward, what changes do you anticipate in the Chinese art photography market for the next 5 years and what should PHOTOFAIRS aim to achieve in Shanghai?

The Chinese audience is super tech savvy. Magnum is working to develop more of a digital presence in China and build its online sales along with that to complement its presence at the fair. We’re expecting PHOTOFAIRS | Shanghai to integrate these changes and assist its galleries in accessing that audience.