A five-day sale of limited edition, history-defining photographs

Magnum’s Closer sale will feature 70 signed prints

El Paso, Texas, USA, 2015, by Matt Black
El Paso, Texas, USA, 2015, by Matt Black | Image: Matt Black/Magnum Photos

Magnum – the photographic agency set up by Robert Capa, Henri Cartier-Bresson, David “Chim” Seymour and George Rodger – turns 70 this year, and to mark the occasion it is holding a special Square Print sale, beginning on June 5, called Closer.

 “Tank Man” stopping a column of T59 tanks. Tiananmen Square, Beijing, China, June 4 1989, by Stuart Franklin
“Tank Man” stopping a column of T59 tanks. Tiananmen Square, Beijing, China, June 4 1989, by Stuart Franklin | Image: Stuart Franklin/Magnum Photos

The title comes from Capa’s remark: “If your pictures aren’t good enough, you’re not close enough” – a maxim that has proved as influential as his history-defining pictures – and the five-day-only sale will feature more than 70 signed or estate-stamped, limited edition prints ($100 each) by Magnum photographers, including Capa, that draw on various meanings of the word.

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Some of the photographers interpreted “closer” in physical terms, such as Stuart Franklin, whose chilling picture of a lone protester standing in front of a line of tanks in Tiananmen Square was taken with a telephoto lens because Chinese security had locked down the hotel he was staying in. British photographer Martin Parr, meanwhile, zoomed right in on the middle-aged sunseeker in Mar del Plata, Argentina, 2014, exposing the meticulous measures (shells on eyes; undone watch) the subject had taken to ensure a line-free tan.

Cecilia. Buenos Aires, Argentina, 1995, by Alessandra Sanguinetti
Cecilia. Buenos Aires, Argentina, 1995, by Alessandra Sanguinetti | Image: Alessandra Sanguinetti/Magnum Photos

Alessandra Sanguinetti’s contribution takes “closer” to mean intimate rather than nearby. Her black-and-white portrait of Cecilia, a girl she lived opposite while she was in Buenos Aires in the early 1990s, is a moving evocation of adolescence, capturing the brief point when both vanishing child and emerging young woman co-exist.

US troops assault Omaha Beach during the D-Day landings (first assault). Normandy, France, June 6, 1944, by Robert Capa
US troops assault Omaha Beach during the D-Day landings (first assault). Normandy, France, June 6, 1944, by Robert Capa | Image: Robert Capa, International Center of Photography/Magnum Photos

American photographer Matt Black has also submitted a portrait, but his one is of an unknown man shot from across the street, and captures him in a private moment of deep despair. As an image, it is perfectly composed, but as uninvited onlookers, our discomfort raises questions about when close becomes too close.

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With all the shots coming in square format and printed on archival paper, this is a unique opportunity to buy a powerful work by some of the 20th and 21st century’s most significant photographers.

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