New: 5,000 images from Magnum Photos
An additional launch of 5,000 shots from the Magnum Photos collection provides a panorama of events across the world and brings the Artstor corpus from the cooperative to more than 130,000 photographs. At Magnum, dozens of photographers and photojournalists are perpetually seeking out stories and offering their visions: the unique perspectives of many members are reflected in the content published by Artstor this year including global manifestations of climate change raging across the planet; refugees seeking shelter and safety; celebrations and concerns around racial, cultural and sexual identity and, domestically, the collision of COVID, and the constitutional crisis at the Capitol on January 6.
The proximity and exceptional access gained by the French photographer Patrick Zachmann epitomizes the reach of the members of the cooperative. Since the fire at Notre Dame cathedral in Paris in the spring of 2019, Zachmann has documented the extraordinary labor and skill that have gone into its reconstruction: more than 350 of his photographs in Artstor chronicle this process. As shown here, last year’s progress included the reconstruction of the wooden scaffolding in the vaults of the church, and the felling of ancient oaks in the forest of Bercé to rebuild the spire. The deliberate and selective culling of the tall trees contrasts here with the nearly simultaneous deforestation of the landscape in British Columbia recorded by Canadian photographer Larry Towell—a desecration.
Zachmann also provided witness to a triumphant act of repatriation that occurred in his native Paris. Twenty-six works from the Royal Treasury at Abomey, Benin were returned to Cotonou, West Africa in November 2021. They had been in Paris since the 1890s. Here we behold Behanzi, the sharkman and the doors of a royal palace as they began their journey home in gloved hands.
The current launch also draws from the Magnum archives, notably on three artists all born around 1940. The South African photographer Ernest Cole is represented by about 600 photographs in Artstor, most depicting apartheid in his homeland, as recorded in his book House of Bondage. Guy Le Querrec whose specialization is portraying jazz musicians actually likened his own work to the syncopation and improvisation of their performances. He is represented by nearly 2,000 photographs in Artstor, including the portraits of the writer James Baldwin, singer Nina Simone, bassist Charles Mingus, and the inimitable Tina Turner displayed here.
Finally, we added works by the Moroccan born French photographer Bruno Barbey who died in 2020. The new photographs span his 55 year career and raise the total in Artstor to nearly 4,000. Above, his Cheung Chau Bun Festival, 2015, represents the popular early May ritual and demonstrates Barbey’s painterly command of color – not to mention his abiding interest in China where he began working in the early 1970s. Barbey was also known for his courageous practice in conflict zones. As we celebrate World Press Freedom Day (May 3) and honor the rights and safety of photojournalists, Barbey’s shot of the foot of the great Buddha at Leshan, 1980, underscores a humbling message of peace.
— Nancy Minty, collections editor