In June of this year, Magnum Photos launched its first NFT collection as part of the agency’s 75th-anniversary celebrations. The collection is divided into three parts, each including 75 images from the agency’s historical archive, spanning from the 1940s to the present day.
For the first part of the collection, released in June and curated by Obscura co-founder Alejandro Cartagena, 55 NFTs were sold to a total of 28 collectors, including the first NFTs by Steve McCurry, Martin Parr, and Paolo Pellegrin.
The second of the series has now been dropped, as it's composed of a further 75 NFTs from the Magnum archive and is available on the NFT platform Foundation. Six drops will take place over two weeks to December 13 and bidding for each NFT will start at a minimum of 1ETH.
The 75 images were curated in dialogue with Azu Nwagbogu, founder and director of the African Artists' Foundation. The selection spans 75 years of photographic history, drawing upon works by Magnum’s very first photographers such as George Rodger and Werner Bischof, through to modern-day icons such as Cristina de Middel and Alec Soth.
Nwagbogu commented on this second drop:
“In 1952, founding Magnum member Henri Cartier-Bresson published the book Images à la Sauvette. Since that time, perhaps the most universal assertion that one would associate with Magnum Photos is the idea that an iconic image is achieved by capturing the ‘decisive moment. Yet the vast Magnum archive reveals so much about the history of the modern world and its unresolved global issues with regard to ecology, humanity and technology, and none of these issues are necessarily narrated through the idea of the ‘decisive moment.
Each image from this second collection is charged with feeling, intent, foreboding, and meaning, composed with a sense of expectation that offers multiple scenarios and possibilities about past events. It is not revisionist history, but rather invites the collector and viewers to perhaps look at the image again, more closely.”
Cristina de Middel, president at Magnum Photos, adds:
“With one foot in the past and another in the future, Magnum Photos performs a balanced dance that combines empowering our archive and supporting new photographic creation. With that in mind, we welcomed the new possibilities that blockchain brings. Earlier this year, our introduction to the NFT world not only opened new ways to generate work and interact with our audience and collectors but also left the door open for external yet relevant voices in the industry to project their vision on our archive with great success.
There is no denying that NFTs are a massive thing within the photographic community, and whether you love them or loathe them NFTS are here to stay, and with the likes of Magnum Photos offering images from its archives, and ways to display your NFTs through digital displays - it might be the best, and cheapest way to get hold of an 'original' from Magnum Photos to display than paying thousands for the 'real thing'.