you have one more day to buy a print by some of the world's best photographers for just $100

Magnum’s print sale gives you the change to own iconic work for a fraction of its cost.

by Felix Petty
09 June 2016, 3:42pm

It was one of Magnum's founders, Henri Cartier-Bresson, who coined the concept of The Decisive Moment; "there is nothing in this world" he wrote, "that does not have a decisive moment." It's a concept that defined the legendary photographer's images, stolen snaps, and candid shots. Armed with a little Leica, he moved amongst the crowds, capturing the movement and freedom of people unawares; he took photography out of the studio and onto the streets. The Decisive Moment still stands as one of the tenants of photojournalism, and it's the subject of this year's Square Print sale, an opportunity to own a print from a range of Magnum photographers for just $100.

A selection of photographers affiliated with the agency have chosen one image from their archives that they feel particularly encapsulates the idea of the decisive moment. Seen as a whole, the images plot out the creative relationships of the photographers at Magnum, as well the issues at the heart of photography today. We've chosen our ten favorite images from the sale, and what the photographer has to say about the decisive (or not so decisive) moment. 

CUBA. Havana. 1993 © Alex Webb/Magnum Photos

"Ever since I first saw my father's copy of The Decisive Moment in the late 1960s, I've been uneasy with the title. The notion of a 'decisive moment' seems just too pat, too unpoetic for such a complicated vision. Years later, it was gratifying to discover that the original French title was Images à la Sauvette— 'Images on the Sly' — a humbler notion more in the spirit of his early street photographs, work that embraces the mystery and uncertainty of collaborating with the world. 'It is the photo that takes you,' as he once said." Alex Webb 

FRANCE. Charente-Maritime department. Town of Royan. August, 1982. Beach of Foncillon © Jean Gaumy/Magnum Photos

"The real often yields explosive propositions. A childhood beach, stretched ropes supporting fragmented bodies in precarious balance, chopped off by the edges of the photographic frame. I was almost certainly influenced by pictoral references from the Renaissance without quite being conscious of these reminiscences..." Jean Gaumy

FRANCE. Paris. 19th arrondissement. Yves St Laurent 1985 Haute-Couture Collection photographed by the Geode dome in La Villette parc © Abbas / Magnum Photos

"For over thirty years now, the assistant has been smoothing one coat; one model prepares to jump on the railing, while another is about to come down; two beautiful women lounge, odalisque-like, on the slab, the wind blowing into their dresses. For over thirty years, my camera has been in the foreground, eager for action. This was my first fashion shoot with the top models of the time." Abbas

INDIA. Delhi. Wrestlers through the painted gate, Paharganj, 1988 © Raghu Rai

"I shot this image in 1988 when I was doing my second book on Delhi. While driving past, I saw the main door of a wresting complex (Akhara) garishly painted with two guys in a dramatic wresting posture. I stopped and as I pushed the door open this is what was going on inside. I stayed on the spot and shot a few frames where the inside and outside human body shapes came into certain relationships, thanked them, shut the door, and came back." Raghu Rai

07/1995.GEORGIA. A beach. Destruction from the Georgian-Abkhaz war which took place between 1991 and 1993 © Thomas Dworzak / Magnum Photos

"At this point in my life I am not very sure anymore what the decisive moment really is, but I remember that at that moment it all seemed to come together: the destruction from the war, the rather moody guy going for a swim, the setting of the former jewel of the Soviet Union and suddenly this screaming, jumping, playing kid coming in from the top." Thomas Dworzak

GERMANY. West Berlin. The Fall of the Berlin Wall. East Berliner's crossing into the West, in the immediate aftermath of the opening of the Berlin Wall at Checkpoint Charlie at midnight on November 9th 1989 © Mark Power / Magnum Photos

"By a series of fortunate events I found myself in Berlin on the night the Wall (unexpectedly) opened. The story of how I came to be there at all is a long one, but fate dealt her cards and I was lucky. The moment was decisive historically, of course, and one of those all-too- rare occasions when a momentous event is joyful rather than tragic. But it was decisive on a personal level too: my derailed photographic career was put firmly back on track, and most success I've had since can be traced back to that one chilly night." Mark Power

BRAZIL. Amazonas. Leticia. The Amazon river. 1966 © Bruno Barbey / Magnum Photos

"In the 1960s, most Magnum photographers, except for Ernst Haas, used black and white, in part because magazines did not reproduce color well. But when I went to Brazil I was astounded by the light and color, so similar to Morocco where I had spent my youth. My response was to start shooting in Kodachrome 2. The film was slow but perfect because of its resistance to heat and humidity. As of that year, color became an essential component to my work: color was my decisive moment." Bruno Barbey

GB. ENGLAND. Manchester. Moss Side Estate. 1986 © Stuart Franklin / Magnum Photos

"The decisive moment, when you think about it, is a one-dimensional concept. It deals with time or timing... I took two or three rolls of film of this scene as it unfolded, but there is only one picture that works, where all the elements come together: timing, composition, geometry and the situation as I wanted to remember it." Stuart Franklin

CHINA. Province of Sichuan. Xindu. Monastery of BAO GUANG (Divine Light). Buddhist temple. On the wall: inscription symbolizing happiness, which the visitors, with their eyes shut, try to touch in the center in order to gain happiness. Friday 27th April 1984 © Guy Le Querrec / Magnum Photos

"On the wall, the symbol of happiness was carved, painted and embossed. According to tradition, Chinese tourists, starting fifteen meters from the wall, walking with eyes closed and arms outstretched, would try to touch the symbol right in the middle of the four embossed points. If they succeeded, it is believed that their life would be full of happiness. I still don't understand the path of this flying bag, neither where it came from, nor where it would like to go." Guy Le Querrec

USA. Wellington, Florida. 2005. Birthday party at Olympia, a gated community © Carolyn Drake / Magnum Photos

"This image recalls a moment in my own life; it puts me in the shoes of myself before I moved abroad in my thirties, just starting my career as a photographer, so is this how I saw the US back then? Having returned to make new images after almost a decade away, it begs me to consider how I've changed, how my perceptions of this country have changed, and how image-making has changed. This is one of the few early images of mine that have stayed with me over time." Carolyn Drake

The (More or Less) Decisive Moments explores the ways in which the notion of 'decisive moment' — long associated with Magnum co-founder Henri Cartier-Bresson — is manifest in the work of Magnum photographers today. Signed or estate stamped prints for $100 from over 60 photographers and artists will be available for a limited time, from 9 am EST on Monday, June 6 until 11 pm Friday, June 10, 2016.


Text Felix Petty

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