Magnum's $100 print sale is back

Your one-week-a-year chance for a signed, museum-quality print.

by Ryan White
15 March 2021, 10:44am


People gather in a stadium during a large rally before the independence referendum in Erbil, Iraq. September 2017.

Every year, the Magnum print sale offers signed or estate-stamped, museum-quality 6x6” prints for $100 (about £71 at the moment) for one week only. Cataloguing each of these sales thematically, the historic photo agency finds threads that links work taken over the course of a century and ties them with the present. 

This year’s images fall under the banner of “The Unexpected”, bringing together photography that celebrates “the unpredictability of life” and “the happy accidents and unusual turns of events that lead to memorable images.”

“From its earliest days, photography has been associated with the unexpected,” the photo agency writes in its accompanying release, “documentation of under-explored issues, reporting of events unfurling in far-flung locations, or single frames capturing split seconds of levity.”

During Women's History Month, Magnum would also like to draw particular focus to some of the great women photographers featured in the sale: Sabiha Çimen’s students on break from Qur’an school, Olivia Arthur’s children at an indoor ski centre in Dubai and Eve Arnold’s iconic image of Marilyn Monroe reading Ulysses, to name three such examples.

As photography continues to thrive as the dominant medium of storytelling for our generation -- shedding light on the most challenging and hopeful moments of the pandemic, as well as the protests that continue to rage globally against inequality and authoritarianism -- the power of print has never been stronger. “This collection of 90+ prints… represents the breadth and variety not only of the practices and outlooks within Magnum’s membership, but also of what photography can convey and capture.”

The Magnum Square Print Sale will take place on the Magnum Photos Shop: It will be open from Monday, March 22, 9AM EST to Sunday, March 28, 12PM PST

a bright pink sunset against a mint green wall

‘Sancti Spiritus’. Cuba. 1993. From the collaborative book, Violet Isle, with Rebecca Norris Webb.

“I only know how to approach a place by walking. For what does a street photographer do but walk and watch and wait and talk, and then watch and wait some more, trying to remain confident that the unexpected, the unknown, or the secret heart of the known, awaits just around the corner.” Larry Towell

marilyn monroe reading ulysses

Marilyn Monroe reading Ulysses by James Joyce. Long Island, New York, USA. 1955.

“This image was made by Eve during her first shoot with Marilyn Monroe. Monroe had shown Eve her down-to-earth, relaxed personality as they worked together. But the photographer had yet to really witness the actress’s candour. The following is an excerpt from a passage in Eve’s book, In Retrospect, in which she recalled meeting with Marilyn a second time, in order to show her the photographs she had taken:

She met me at the door in a diaphanous black negligee. She had a hairbrush in her hand. Would I mind sitting through an interview for a European magazine—then we could talk? Almost immediately the reporter showed up. Marilyn greeted her, and while the woman had her head down, looking in her purse for notebook and pencil, Marilyn asked if she minded if she (Marilyn) brushed her hair during the interview. No, of course not. When the woman raised her head, Marilyn was brushing her pubic hair.

Due in no small part to Monroe’s laidback temperament, the two were to become close over the months that followed.” Michael Arnold, Estate of Eve Arnold

two children skiing in dubai

Kids at Ski Dubai, Dubai. U.A.E. 2013.

“One of the more surreal experiences I’ve had was a visit to Ski Dubai, a large indoor ski slope with sub-zero temperatures and real snow. You take a lift up to the top of the nearly half-kilometer long slope and halfway down you can stop at a little wooden hut and have a hot drink or snack. Standing outside with my coffee, under a gas-heater, in what is essentially a giant freezer in a desert, I couldn't help thinking about the crazy lengths we go to entertain ourselves.” Olivia Arthur

children with kites in oman

Ras al-Hadd near Sur, Oman. 2004.

“While travelling through Oman, I came across this fort near Sur. Always on the lookout for the unexpected, I spotted these children playing with kites fashioned from plastic shopping bags. As happens maybe once a year, all the elements – kids, kites, bike, goats, even the telegraph wires – slotted together to make the shape and capture a joyous moment.” Ian Berry

a man with a record player

New York City, U.S.A. Circa 1971.

“One of the strangest phenomena of street photography is when the photographer appears to engage in a form of cultural prophecy. The collision of today with tomorrow requires an uncanny ability to sense the future in the present.

Ernest Cole's 1971 image of a New York hipster predicts the b-boy stylings of the mid-1980s: the dinky hat, the sportswear, the early version of a stereo beatbox. The unexpected pose of the proto-b-boy seems to leap forward decades to the pages of style magazines like The Face and iD.

And the new culture is neatly complemented by Cole's parallel pictures of graffiti adorning the New York streets, years before books began to collate and document that burgeoning art form. How strange it must have been for Ernest Cole, to watch the development of hip hop culture during the 1970s and 1980s - an identity that he had presciently foreseen in the late 1960s.” Ernest Cole

woman on a paddle boat in istanbul

Students having fun on an artificial lake on the weekend. Istanbul, Turkey. 2018

“The Qur’an school is an ordered, structured, and predictable environment for learning, so during holidays and break-times, when these girls are allowed to be led by their own whims, they seek the fresh air of the outdoors without any particular plan or direction. There they can let the day take them away to other shores where the wind carries their dreams on unpredictable currents of imagination.” Sabiha Çimen

one woman pushing an older woman in a wheelchair on madison avenue

New York City, USA. 1990.

“I couldn't believe my eyes when I saw the expressions on the faces of these two seemingly related women as the younger one was pushing the other along Madison Avenue in her wheelchair. Whatever the reason, her mouth was wide open. The scene spoke to me about the mother-daughter relationship: I imagined that the daughter had had enough and was perilously pushing the older woman over a cliff.” Bruce Gilden

a man throwing a molotov cocktail in nicaragua

‘Molotov Man’. Sandinistas at the walls of the Esteli National Guard headquarters. Esteli, Nicaragua. 1979.

“It was on July 17, 1979, the day before Somoza fled Nicaragua, that I photographed Sandinista Pablo 'Bareta' Arauz, whose name I didn’t know at that moment. He was throwing a molotov cocktail at one of the last remaining National Guard garrisons.

Back then I was working with two cameras, one loaded with black and white film and the other with color. I missed the shot of Bareta’s decisive gesture in black and white, but captured him in color. The image that became known as the ‘Molotov Man’ was reproduced and painted all over the country, before appearing on matchbooks commemorating the first anniversary of the Sandinista revolution.

25 years later, Bareta's likeness was adopted as the ’official’ symbol of the fight against the Somoza dictatorship. In 2018, the ‘Molotov Man’ was printed on T-shirts worn by university students protesting now against the Sandinista President Daniel Ortega.

An image can have multiple lives, which in this case neither Pablo or I could predict or control.” Susan Meiselas


All images courtesy Magnum