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Exhibition brings together 20 famous photographers from the world-renowned Magnum agency
Werner Bischof, Mexican artist Frida KAHLO. Mexico City, Mexico. 1954. Magnum Photos.

COMPTON VERNEY.- An exhibition at Compton Verney this summer goes in search of the places where creativity takes shape and ideas are born - the artist’s studio.

Magnum Photos: Where Ideas Are Born brings together more than 20 famous photographers from the world-renowned Magnum agency and includes over 60 photo portraits of the artists who created art history in the 20th century.

In a series of revealing and characteristic images, artists such as Pablo Picasso, Andy Warhol, Frida Kahlo, Francis Bacon, Ai Weiwei, Salvador Dali, Tracey Emin, Louise Bourgeois, Keith Haring, Henry Moore, Roy Lichtenstein and Yayoi Kusama can all be seen in their creative environments. These range from the cramped ateliers of the Parisian avant-garde at the beginning of the 20th century, to the American pop artists’ New York lofts, and the highly professional, capacious studios of the international stars of the contemporary art market.

The photographs, taken by such luminaries as Martin Parr, Robert Capa, Inge Morath, Thomas Hoepker and Abbas, are the result of an attempt to capture the precise moments when the spark of creativity takes hold, and new ideas are born.

The photographs are grouped into three themes: In The Studio, The Moment of Creation, and A Portrait of the Artist. Together they provide a unique insight into spaces rarely seen - the creative chaos of Francis Bacon's studio at 7 Reece Mews, Frida Kahlo painting from her wheelchair in the final months of her life, Helen Frankenthaler using slippered feet to create an Abstract Expressionist painting, Tomi Ungerer in his Soho home making a bird from an electric iron and Salvador Dali in bed, projecting pieces of dirty paper "to stimulate his inspiration."

As portrait subjects, artists are often fearless and experimental performers. Posed in their studios, beside or even on top of their works, there is a sense of artist and artwork becoming one. In the golden age of photojournalism magazine assignments were plentiful and Magnum photographers were granted unique access to artists. The resulting images are now an invaluable and iconic record: capturing the moments when great photographers meet great artists.

The Magnum Photos agency was formed in 1947, following the aftermath of the Second World War, when four pioneering photographers - Robert Capa, Henri Cartier-Bresson, George Rodger and Chim (David Seymour) founded a now legendary alliance, combining an extraordinary range of individual styles into one powerful collaboration. Today Magnum Photos represents some of the world’s most renowned photographers, sharing a vision to chronicle world events, people, places and culture with a powerful narrative that defies convention, redefines history and transforms lives.

The show will be curated by Amy Orrock, who says: “The fascinating photos in this exhibition document the huge range of ways in which artists have worked over the past hundred years. It also captures a myriad of artistic personalities, from the private and serious to the fearless, performative and playful.”
The exhibition is accompanied by a book, Magnum Artists by Simon Bainbridge (Laurence King, 2020).

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