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Reading Magnum: A Visual Archive of the Modern World (Harry Ransom Center Photography Series) [Hardcover]

Geoff Dyer , Steven Hoelscher
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
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Book Description

25 Nov 2013 Harry Ransom Center Photography Series
The Magnum Photos archive - a collection of more than 200,000 photographs by some of the twentieth and early twenty-first centuries' greatest image makers - is the most comprehensive accumulation of prints made by the distinguished photo cooperative. Consistently and with striking artistry, Magnum's photographers have done more than simply document the far reaches of the globe; they have helped shape generations' understanding of the world around them. While many of its photographs have been widely published, until now no one has examined the Magnum archive itself. In Reading Magnum, experts from several fields investigate this visual archive, now residing at the Harry Ransom Center at the University of Texas at Austin, to discover how a select, influential group of visual authors has used the camera for an ambitious project of cultural interpretation and social commentary. The chapters in Reading Magnum are devoted to themes generated by a close reading of the archive - war and conflict, portraiture, geography, cultural life, social relations, and globalization. These themes are further developed by evocative portfolios of images, which suggest something of the depth and range of the photo agency, and by tracing the trajectory of several iconic images from annotated press print to distribution to eventual publication. Volume editor Steven Hoelscher provides an overview of the Magnum enterprise, and Alison Nordstrom offers an appreciation of the Magnum archive as a material record of information about the making and disseminating of photographs that is being lost as images on paper are replaced by images on screen. As a whole, the book's unique reading of the Magnum archive reveals patterns of intention, aesthetic vision, and political perspective that become legible only by viewing both the physical objects and the recorded images that constitute this remarkable collection.

Product details

  • Hardcover: 352 pages
  • Publisher: University of Texas Press; annotated edition edition (25 Nov 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0292748434
  • ISBN-13: 978-0292748439
  • Product Dimensions: 27.4 x 24.9 x 3.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 348,601 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

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"There are more than 200,000 photographs just from the New York office of Magnum, the legendary photo cooperative (Magnum has four offices around the globe). Drawing from that archive, American Studies scholar Steven Hoelscher and other contributors mine the images (of war, social upheaval, celebrities: you name it) for insight into how photography has influenced our world, and vice-versa. With photos from major photographers Henri Cartier-Bresson, Eve Arnold, Robert Capa, among others." - Kirkus "In Reading Magnum: A Visual Archive of the Modern World - which Photo Magazine recently named Book of the Year, - Hoelscher and a team of seven international scholars offer an in-depth account of the Magnum photographs as they are shuffled around from one publication to another and viewed in a wide range of contexts." - Life and Letters "This book has seven definitive chapters as well as an introduction that offers us an overview of how the archive might be read. Some of the chapters deal with particular genres: portraits, war, celebrity shots; while other cover generic subjects: globalization, everyday life, geography, and a sense of place. They are all lavishly and appropriately illustrated [...] All the chapters are well researched and interestingly written and provide a useful introduction to the superb body of work contained within the archive." - Exposure "Each chapter begins with an authoritative interpretative text, followed by a picture portfolio that often includes data regarding the original assignments or their first appearance in published form [...] it is a meaningful accompaniment to monographs on the individual photographers. Summing Up: Recommended" - Choice

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Christmas Present 14 Jan 2014
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Brought this book for our son who is studying photography at college, hes not had his nose out of it. Arrived in plenty of time for xmas.
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Amazon.com: 5.0 out of 5 stars  4 reviews
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Extraordinary Visions 28 Sep 2013
By Paul Adams - Published on Amazon.com
This book provides a fascinating glimpse of world events over the past 70 years, seen through the eyes of some of the greatest photographers of this time. The images themselves are arresting. They combine artistry with a rare degree of journalistic sensitivity and are accompanied by fascinating essays addressing the social role of photography and how place images in the media have shaped our views of the world. The book also looks behind the scenes of photography as a business--how photos were selected, cropped, and printed back when they were material objects, and how these objects circulated between the Magnum Photo cooperative and the people who paid to reprint the images. As the photo industry has shifted to digital capture, editing, and delivery, and these old business practices are abandoned, the technical information alone would make this book worth possessing. But hours can be spent just looking at the pictures as well.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I love this book, but 29 Sep 2013
By Sue Moran - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I wish the UT Press had done a better job of making it. I had to send the first copy back and the second has almost the same flaw. The hard cover corners are bent, the back bottom one quite severely.

Although this is an "archive" of a gazillion images with eight thoughtful essays, I can't wait until I've actually read it cover to cover.

The book is a treasure.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Another wonderful book from Magnum! 18 Mar 2014
By A voracious reader - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I own several books of Magnum photos and they're all a treasure, but this one is really special. The photos span many years and they're quite varied, with some that are really affecting and some that are true works of art. I think Magnum photographers are a "gift" to the photography world and I never tire of looking at these photos.
5.0 out of 5 stars Probably the best, most accessible anthologies of Magnum photos 18 Aug 2014
By L. Spencer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
There have been a LOT of big photobooks made up from raiding the Magnum Archive. I own most of them. Some, such as the book of contact sheets, contain new revelations and repay close study. But this book, READING MAGUM, is by far the most accessible and attractive presentation of Magnum photos and stories. READING MAGNUM is really readable. Photos are beautifully presented. The book is thematically organised. Anyone with an interest in the subject will really, really enjoy engaging with this book.

A precious addition to anyones library.
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