Mark Feeney, Wishing Magnum Photos a happy 70th birthday, Boston Globe, 21 July 2017
NEW YORK — The Psalmist allows threescore and 10 as the years for a human life. So when a person turns 70, that’s an occasion. Institutions seem to prefer three-quarter intervals. Seventy just starts the countdown to 75. Yet it makes sense that Magnum Photos, a very distinguished institution indeed, would find its 70th birthday observed. The greatness of Magnum, the most celebrated name in the history of photojournalism, has always been inseparable from that of Magnum’s photographers. The human element, both behind the camera and in front of it, has been the essence of Magnum.
The photographers who’ve made up the collective include a pair of the most famous of the last century, Henri Cartier-Bresson and Robert Capa (two of Magnum’s five founders), and several of the finest of that century and this one: W. Eugene Smith, Elliott Erwitt, Eve Arnold, Burt Glinn, the list goes on. All have work in “Magnum Manifesto,” which runs at the International Center of Photography through Sept. 3.
The ICP has always had a special relationship with Magnum. Its founder, Cornell Capa, was Robert’s brother and himself a Magnum photographer. So there’s a family-reunion feel to “Magnum Manifesto,” and the reunion is big. Seventy-six photographers have work here, with more than 250 images hanging on the walls and more than 300 projected as slides.
There was also a sense of social responsibility. Magnum photographers would be as interested in theme and issue as event and personality. That’s not to say the latter were shortchanged. The show includes, for example, Mark Power’s photographs of the fall of the Berlin Wall or a 1978 Martine Franck portrait of the French thinker Michel Foucault that’s a knockout.