The Unexpected: Purchase a Piece of Photographic History for Just $100

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Magnum Square Print Sale: The Unexpected
Gladys Crowder and Eddie "Shorty" Davis. Two of the great Lindy Hop dancers, in the Kat's Corner at the Savoy Ballroom. Harlem, New York City, USA. 1939© Cornell Capa / Magnum Photos

Magnum Photos’ latest Square Print Sale offers an array of surprising, humorous, and beautiful works by the likes of Susan Meiselas, Alex Webb, Harry Gruyaert, and many more

Magnum Photos’ hotly anticipated biannual Square Print Sale is back, this time with the playful theme of ‘The Unexpected’. Giving photography enthusiasts the opportunity to purchase a piece of photographic history for just $100, the six-day sale offers signed or estate-stamped, museum-quality prints from some of the best known names of the medium – including Susan Meiselas, Alex Webb, Harry Gruyaert, Bruce Gilden, Bruno Barbey, Cristina de Middel, Paul Fusco, Cornell Capa, Stuart Franklin, Thomas Hoepker, and many more. 

Featuring a bountiful selection of over 100 images to choose from, the sale’s theme of The Unexpected is interpreted by Magum’s photographers in a litany of varied scenes, encompassing imagery of protest, dance, astronauts, dreamy South American sunsets, plus a few furry and feathered friends. Here, alongside quotes from the artists about their chosen images, we present a selection of our favourite works featured in the sale:

Cornell Capa (lead image)

“I am not an artist and I never intended to be one ... I hope I have made some good photographs, but what I really hope is that I have done some good photo stories with memorable images that make a point and, perhaps, even make a difference.”

Alex Webb

“I only know how to approach a place by walking. For what does a street photographer do but walk and watch and wait and talk, and then watch and wait some more, trying to remain confident that the unexpected, the unknown, or the secret heart of the known, awaits just around the corner.”

Bruce Gilden

“I couldn't believe my eyes when I saw the expressions on the faces of these two seemingly related women as the younger one was pushing the other along Madison Avenue in her wheelchair. Whatever the reason, her mouth was wide open. The scene spoke to me about the mother-daughter relationship: I imagined that the daughter had had enough and was perilously pushing the older woman over a cliff.”

Khalik Allah

“Long before becoming a photographer I was in Harlem studying Knowledge of Self. Books and VHS tapes from Dr John Henrik Clarke, Ivan Van Sertima and Hakim Bey fortified my education. In those days I would mostly avoid 125th and Lex, so it's unexpected that those four corners became the nucleus of my photography.”

Philippe Halsman

“In 1962, LOOK magazine gave Philippe Halsman the assignment to shoot their December cover story: ’Tippi Hedren: Hitchcock's new Grace Kelly’. Halsman traveled to the set of Alfred Hitchcock's movie The Birds in northern California. The film was to be a revenge story, in which birds get back at humans for centuries of being hunted. Hitchcock was excited to show Halsman all the effort that went into the use of mechanical birds and the training of live birds for his latest film. The main animal trainer Ray Berwick said of Tippi: ’That nice girl took a lot of abuse. It’s a miracle she got through it with her face intact.’ This photograph shows the unexpected bond that developed between Tippi and Buddy the raven, who had been trained to light matches. Apparently Tippi grew so fond of him that she put a sign on her dressing room door that read: ’Buddy and Tippi’. Many of the photos from this shoot also ran as a cover story for LIFE magazine in 1963,” says the Estate of Philippe Halsman.

Stuart Franklin

“In June, 1989, following the Beijing massacre, a man stepped into the path of a row of tanks leaving Tiananmen Square and into the history books. It was an unexpected act of defiance. Courageous too. More than thirty years on there's still a great deal we don't know: what became of the man, why he was carrying two shopping bags, and the nature of his exchange with the tank driver. One day I hope we’ll know more.”

Cristina de Middel

“What makes an image unexpected? Lately a scarcity of layers in our way of thinking and a general reluctance to adopt nuance as a valid approach to understanding this world is suffocating a range of possibilities, in which we, as humans, could be giving the best of ourselves. A better understanding of context and motivation is more necessary than ever if we want to interrogate who we are and what we do, but also in order to avoid the Manichean hordes that divide public opinion into black and white ... The year 2020 saw world-changing events that reminded us of the value of life and the fragility of the cultural constructions in which we live.”

Susan Meiselas

“It was on July 17, 1979, the day before Somoza fled Nicaragua, that I photographed Sandinista Pablo ‘Bareta’ Arauz, whose name I didn’t know at that moment. He was throwing a molotov cocktail at one of the last remaining National Guard garrisons.

“The image that became known as the ‘Molotov Man’ was reproduced and painted all over the country, before appearing on matchbooks commemorating the first anniversary of the Sandinista revolution.

“25 years later, Bareta’s likeness was adopted as the ’official’ symbol of the fight against the Somoza dictatorship. In 2018, the ‘Molotov Man’ was printed on T-shirts worn by university students protesting now against the Sandinista President Daniel Ortega.

“An image can have multiple lives, which in this case neither Pablo or I could predict or control.”

Richard Kalvar

“Why is this big ugly dog suddenly stalking me?”

“What is this little cat doing in the family basket?”

Harry Gruyaert

“In 1998, I was working on an assignment in Mali. I was staying in a little hotel in Gao, a small town on the River Niger. It was terribly hot in the hotel. Looking for some air, I went to the room on the top floor. There was an opening in the wall which perfectly framed the landscape outside, while the light coming from another opening was cutting a sharp geometric pattern in the surrounding shadow. The air was perfectly still. And just as I started shooting, a sudden draft blew the curtain hanging on the right to a perfect angle. For me, photography is all about trying to be lucky.”

The Unexpected: Magnum’s Square Print Sale runs from March 22 – 28, 2021. Signed and estate-stamped, museum-quality, 6x6” prints from over 100 artists will exceptionally be available for $100, for six days only.