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“Closer” to Robert Capa’s path with Magnum Square Print Sale

Magnum Photos has taken its lead from Robert Capa's famous advice in its latest online print sale, featuring archive and contemporary work

“If your pictures aren’t good enough, you’re not close enough,” said Magnum Photos co-founder Robert Capa, famously. This week Magnum Photos is revisiting Capa’s concept with its Square Print Sale, part of a cycle of four print sales it’s running to celebrate its 70th anniversary.

Featuring signed or estate-stamped 6×6” prints by classic and contemporary Magnum photographers, the sale will see work up for grabs at just $100, for five days only via the Magnum Photos Online Shop. The works selected all engage with Capa’s idea of closeness – whether in physical and psychological terms.

“In this case, I was physically close, but the Leica M 35mm lens I was using did not focus at such a close distance, and the foreground is thus quite out of focus,” says Chris Steele-Perkins, referencing his shot The Teds, taken in 1976. “I was not psychologically close; I had never met these young men before, and I think I only took two photographs of them in total.”

Other takes on “the decisive moment” include Stuart Franklin’s photograph of the Tank Man at Tiananmen Square, as well as Robert Capa’s D-Day series, Abbas’s Iranian Revolution coverage, and work from present-day documentarists Matt Black, Paolo Pellegrin, Diana Markosian and Lorenzo Meloni.

The Teds. Great Britain. 1976 Teds’ © Chris Steele-Perkins / Magnum Photos, courtesy of Magnum Photos

Japan, 2006 © Antoine d’Agata / Magnum Photos, courtesy of Magnum Photos

The sale also includes work by Larry Towell, Antoine d’Agata, Christopher Anderson and Alessandra Sanguinetti, who have explored the concept of proximity in terms of intimacy in highly personal work. “Even in my former life as a ‘war photographer,’ I never thought that Capa’s advice to ‘get closer’ was in reference to physical distance,” says Anderson. “To me, Capa’s words were always about emotional proximity.”

Works by Jacob Aue Sobol, from Bruce Davidson’s Subway series and from Alex Webb’s long-term work in Mexico will also be included in a sale which includes work by over 70 photographers – plus an amazing moment captured by David Hurn while The Beatles filmed A Hard Day’s Night.

The Beatles during filming of “A Hard Day’s Night.” London, England. 1964 © David Hurn / Magnum Photos, courtesy of Magnum Photos

“‘Getting closer’ can have at least two definitions,” comments Hurn. “The four had a naturalness that perhaps came about because they had never done a movie before. They never stopped joking and ‘messing about’. This picture was taken on the first day of shooting. Here, closeness does, in fact, mean, at what distance can you get all four into the picture?”

Magnum’s ‘Closer’ square print sale will run from 2pm UK time, Monday 05 June 2017 until 11PM UK time on Friday, 09 June 2017. Signed and estate-stamped, museum quality, 6×6” prints from over 70 artists will be available for $100 for 5 days only, from shop.magnumphotos.com.

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

Subway. New York City, USA. 1980 © Bruce Davidson/ Magnum Photos, courtesy of Magnum Photos

Cotton Candy. Oaxaca, Mexico. 1990 © Alex Webb / Magnum Photos, courtesy of Magnum Photos

Mar del Plata, Argentina. 2014 © Martin Parr / Magnum Photos, courtesy of Magnum Photos

Londonderry, Northern Ireland, 1972© Giles Peress/ Magnum Photos, courtesy of Magnum Photos

Market. Tashkent, Uzbekistan. 1992 © Gueorgui Pinkhassov / Magnum Photos, courtesy of Magnum Photos