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Differing from other photo books about New York, New Yorkers: As Seen by Magnum Photographers introduces a gallery of eye-catching, untamed images of the metropolis taken by members of the renowned Magnum photo agency. Known for their spirit of independence, these photographers proffer droll, enigmatic, melancholic, enchanting, perhaps even effervescent scenes of the world’s most well known city, often combining these disparate sensibilities together, against great odds, in a single image. For these pictures to have been on target, they had to be off-kilter—as charged with contradiction and nuance as the reality of their subjects.
The photographers in this book come from many countries and, armed with a wide range of purposes, are united only by their membership in Magnum Photos. Though best known for reportage of global wars and crises, they have created a New York archive of great magnitude documenting the last sixty years of New York’s—and Magnum’s—history. Of the more than one hundred and fifty photographs in New Yorkers, only a fraction have ever been published.
Leafing through New Yorkers, edited by the acclaimed art critic Max Kozloff, is like walking the streets of New York City, beguiled by its implausible and mixed energies, renewed at each turn of a corner. Throughout the city’s sidewalks, bars, subways, rooftops, bridges, street corners, diners, barbershops, boardwalks, and empty lots, and inside its ball games, parks, protests, parades, society events, and myriad trade districts, these photographers have roamed freely, snapping its denizens with a realism that smarts and a wit that sparkles, featuring never-before-seen work by Henri Cartier-Bresson, Robert Capa, Inge Morath, Elliott Erwitt, Bruce Davidson, Leonard Freed, Raymond Depardon, Eve Arnold, Dennis Stock, Ferdinando Scianna, Richard Kalvar, Burt Glinn, Eli Reed, René Burri, Susan Meiselas, and more.
New Yorkers: As Seen by Magnum Photographers emphasizes the color work of the Magnum photographers, much of it surprisingly early, and contains an essay by Kozloff, who tackles his offbeat selection with relish.
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Magnum Photos, established in April 1947, summoned "concerned" photojournalists to unite in defense of free expression and individual copyright in an era of nascent magazine conglomerates who demanded total ownership of their correspondents' pictures. Steeped in the euphoria of Europe's liberation from wartime terror, Magnum's founders envisioned a cooperative venture that would guarantee a truly independent media. It was this dream, tethered to the political foundations of social democracy, which brought together Henri Cartier-Bresson, George Rodger, Robert Capa, and David Seymour. More than fifty years later, the calling of Magnum's peer-selected members has not changed. They continue the struggle to represent history through the lens of personal experience, competing against all odds in an age of predatory media giants. Magnum Photos has published two books with powerHouse Books: New York September 11 (2001) and Arms Against Fury (2002); Max Kozloff, who wrote the art column for the Nation in the 1960s, and served as Executive Editor of Artforum fro, 1974-1976, has since then worked as a freelance photography critic in New York. His essays have been published in over twenty-one volumes, including Social Graces (powerHouse Books, 2001), Cultivated Impasses (Consortium, 2000), Lone Visions (University of New Mexico, 1997), and Now Becoming Then (Twin Palms, 1991), a study of Duane Michals. Most recently, Kozloff guest curated and wrote the catalogue for the exhibition New York Capital of Photography, at New York's Jewish Museum. Kozloff's photographs have been exhibited at the Holly Solomon and Marlborough galleries, New York, and museums abroad, notably the Bombay Centre for the Performing Arts. The recipient of many fellowships including the Pulitzer, an Ingram-Merrill, Guggenheim, and a Fulbright, among other awards, Kozloff lives and works in New York City.
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