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 Open for Business - Magnum Photographers on Commission shows a side of Magnum that the general public is hardly aware of, and with 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.

Advertisement for Baccarat 2005 C Martin Parr / Magnum Photos
A young actor working with the Fani Raghman Ani group, an association defending human rights in Tunisia, showing a taffoo on his back saying ’freedom’ in Arabic. Tunis, Tunisia, 2017 C Newsha Tavakolian / Magnum Photos.
A young actor working with the Fani Raghman Ani group, an association defending human rights in Tunisia, showing a taffoo on his back saying ’freedom’ in Arabic. Tunis, Tunisia, 2017
Humanitas dementia centre hairdresser, Deventer, Holland, 2019 C Rafal Milach / Magnum Photos.
Humanitas dementia centre hairdresser, Deventer, Holland, 2019
Mexico 2018 C Cristina de Middel / Magnum Photos
Mexico, 2018
New York City, USA, 1953 C Werner Bischof / Magnum Photos
New York City, USA, 1953
The Ritz-Carlton Hotel, Moscow, 2016 C Alex Majoli / Magnum Photos.
The Ritz-Carlton Hotel, Moscow, 2016

About the exhibition

The exhibition aims to unveil an interesting and lesser-known aspect of Magnum photographers’ portfolios and, in so doing, 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.

Marilyn Monroe in the Nevada desert going over her lines for a difficult scene she is about to play with Clark Gable in the film “The Misfits”, Nevada, USA, 1960 © Eve Arnold / Magnum Photos

On Assignment talks and online courses

For many photographers today – and especially for those whose practice is documentary - accepting and pursuing commissions and assignments within the media industry helps to build and contribute to a sustainable career. Through a series of talks and online courses, we will take a closer look at the dynamics of this industry.

Sign up for the talks on 22 June and 17 August to learn more about how to navigate the territory between your own practice and the media industry at large. Each talk will be followed by an online course in which we dive deeper into the subject.

discover the programme
From the series Tell The Trees To Smile © Myriam Boulos.

For more information or press requests, please see here or contact our press office at pressoffice@foam.org.

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 de VriendenLoterij, Foam Members, De Brauw Blackstone Westbroek, the VandenEnde Foundation and the City of Amsterdam.

In 2022 Foam receives additional support from the Mondriaan Fund and receives a contribution through the Mondriaan Fund from the Ministerie van OCW.

Gucci makeup fashion shoot Brooklyn New York City USA 2019 C Bruce Gilden Magnum PhotosThe mounted lifeUntitledOn Earth tour - Hinde HaestStill from the On Earth Tour: Mishka Henner

explore connections

Open for Business

Magnum Photographers on Commission