This spring Foam presents the exhibition Open for Business – Magnum Photographers on Commission. For over 75 years, the photographers of Magnum Photos have not only created photographic icons on both major events and hidden stories, but have simultaneously worked on commission. The exhibition shows a side of Magnum that the general public is hardly aware of, and which its photographers rarely promote themselves. In eight chapters, the audience is taken on a variety of commercial assignments: from carte blanche group assignments for governments to the hippest fashion photography; and from chic publications for major industries to reporting in the service of NGOs.
Although rarely recognized as "Magnum work" by a wider audience, it does tell a vital part of the Magnum story, and of the story of photography in general, which occupies a complex cultural position at the intersection of art, documentary and commerce.
This exhibition aims to unveil an interesting and lesser-known aspect of Magnum photographers’ portfolios and, in doing so, the reality of a career in photography: Open For Business exposes the true nature of the job, which comes with assignments that highlight the qualities of Magnum’s visual storytellers in completely different ways.
Open for Business shines a light on the diversity of Magnum’s commissioned work from the 1950s to 2019. From the beginning, the balance between independent and commercial work has led to fierce discussions amongst Magnum photographers. Every member of the agency considers corporate commissions differently. This exhibition features the outcome of these experiences, putting a sharp focus on the ethical questions that arise with them. It reveals interactions between commercial and personal photography, emphasizing the ways in which photographers have shaped or changed the visual languages of corporations by applying their personal sensitivity to assignments, with surprising, ironic and often humorous results.
The exhibition has been developed in collaboration with Magnum Photos Paris and the Deutsche Börse Photography Foundation. It is curated by Anne-Marie Beckmann, Director Deutsche Börse Photography Foundation, and Mirjam Kooiman, curator of Foam.
Foam is supported by the VriendenLoterij, Foam Members, De Brauw Blackstone Westbroek, the VandenEnde Foundation and the Gemeente Amsterdam.
In 2022 Foam receives additional support from the Mondriaan Fund and receives a contribution through the Mondriaan Fund from the Ministerie van OCW.