Magnum Contact Sheets

Exhibition: 29 February to 24 March, 2012

Burt Glinn
© Burt Glinn/Magnum Photos SPAIN. Sagaro 1959 (detail)

Stills Gallery is delighted to present Magnum Contact Sheets, an exhibition featuring early and original contact sheets by Magnum photographers. Often compared to an artist’s sketchbook, the contact sheet, a direct print of a roll or sequence of negatives, is the photographer’s first look at what he or she captured on film, and provides a uniquely intimate glimpse into their working process. It gives a behind-the-scenes sense of walking alongside the photographer and seeing through their eyes.

The exhibition concept was inspired by the recent release of a landmark new book entitled Magnum Contact Sheets, which presents an unparalleled wealth of unpublished material, revealing the story behind many iconic and historical images of modern times taken by the world’s most celebrated photographers. The book shows their creative process and also acts, in the words of Martin Parr, as an ‘epitaph to the contact sheet’ as it marks the end of the analog era as we move to a digital generation.

The exhibition features over 30 intriguing contact sheets. As well as a variety of diverse contemporary photographers, such as the large format contact sheets of Alec Soth and Stuart Franklin, the medium format contact sheets by Mark Power and Chien-Chi Chang and, of course, work by Stills Gallery artist (the only Australian member of Magnum Photos) Trent Parke, the exhibition features some classic Magnum material. Some are displayed alongside their final images, such as the immortalization of Marlene Dietrich’s studio sessions by Eve Arnold.

The images featured in the book - both celebrated icons of photography and lesser-known surprises - encompass over seventy years of history: from the D-Day Normandy landings by Robert Capa, the 1968 Paris riots by Bruno Barbey and war in Chechnya by Thomas Dworzak, to René Burri’s filmic sequence of close-ups of Che Guevara, classic New Yorkers by Bruce Gilden, and Eve Arnold’s iconic portrait of the charismatic and image-savvy Malcolm X.

This exhibition provides a unique insight into the inner workings and thought processes of some of the world’s greatest photographers.