A History of Paris in 150 Photographs

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tags: photography, Paris



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Paris Magnum, a new exhibition at l’Hôtel de Ville (City Hall) in Paris, presents a visual scope of the French capital as depicted by notable photojournalists during the 20th century. Billed as a cinematographic
“greatest hits,” the show pulls from the archives of the renowned agency, Magnum Photos, from the 1930s until today. Some 150 images are chronologically sequenced, touching on major moments in the city’s social history, including labor strikes, the Occupation, après-guerre hardships, the riots of May 1968, the construction of key cultural institutions, changing architectural topography, and scenes of quotidian urban experiences. The expo is introduced by Mayor Anne Hildalgo, who describes it as a “sensitive reading of the upheavals in French society.” 

Magnum came into being as a cooperative only two years after the conclusion of World War II. It was founded by the photographic foursome Henri Cartier-Bresson, Robert Capa, George Rodger, and David “Chim” Seymour. Under their jurisdiction, the photographic profession became a statut d’auteur, mixing the role ofjournalist with artist and eye-witness, and the group put unflappable emphasis on independence, control, and authorship. Newly empowered, the photographers kept the copyrights to their images instead of handing them over to the magazines that published their work, thus regulating the means by which their images were viewed.Magnum became a badge, a label. To date, the agency follows new photographers’ careers for over four to eight years before they may be considered for Magnum membership (there are 80 members). 





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