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Magnum. Contact Sheets is at the cultural centre inside the bullring. M. F.
Iconic picks
Review

Iconic picks

Two highly 'select' photographic exhibitions in Malaga city are absolute must-sees

Georgina Oliver

Malaga

Monday, 26 February 2024, 08:14

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In the mood for photography? If so, you will find a tandem of good-together winter-spring events irresistible. The Museo Carmen Thyssen Málaga hosts Man Ray - Selected Photographs in its Sala Noble, an intimate exhibition space niched on the museum's first floor.

Meanwhile, on the other side of the Parque, a brisk walk or brief bus ride away... the Centro Cultural La Malagueta, housed in Malaga's spruced-up bullring, within steps of the Pompidou Centre aka "El Cubo", presents a tribute to the legendary Magnum photo-reportage agency.

Man Ray best-of

The Thyssen Museum's homage to image-maker extraordinaire Man Ray opens with a modern print of the most expensive photograph ever sold (for 12,400,000 dollars, at Christie's New York, in 2022), instantly recognizable, even if its title is slightly "lost in translation".

Ingres' Violin is no match for Le Violon d'Ingres: a play on words alluding at once to 19th-century Neoclassicist Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres' iconic 'rear view' nude painting of a seated female model, and to an idiomatic expression. In French, "violon d'Ingres" means pastime.

What better way to pass the time, for instance on a Sunday morning, as I did... than to catch sight of this 1924 'meme' of Ingres' turban-clad Valpinçon Bather (1808), featuring the avant-garde artist-photographer's muse Kiki de Montparnasse with violin-like 'f-holes' painted on each side of her back - before soaking up other aspects of his beyond stylish body of work?

Introduced to the leading lights of the Parisian Dadaist movement by fellow chess aficionado Marcel Duchamp, Man Ray was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, to Jewish parents with Russian roots. His catchy two-syllable pseudonym is a portmanteau for Emmanuel ("Manny") Ratminsky.

From portraits of trailblazing women (Lee Miller, Meret Oppenheim, Coco Chanel) and household-name artists (Picasso, Dalí, Miró) to vintage selfies; culminating in the "Rayographs" on the end wall... the full spectrum of this Surrealist all-rounder's photographic palette is showcased.

Magnum tribute

Founded in Paris two years after the end of the Second World War, Magnum Photos is no ordinary agency; its initial members (notably Henri Cartier-Bresson and Robert Capa) set out to create an international cooperative of copyright-holding photographers with a humanistic approach to geopolitical conflicts and social issues.

The La Malagueta selection entitled Magnum. Contact Sheets is magnificent, positively magnetic. Once again, 'iconic' is the word. JFK, Nixon, Khrushchev... Fidel Castro, Che Guevara... Martin Luther King, Malcom X, Robert Kennedy's funeral train... Mother Teresa, the Dalai Lama... The Beatles, Margaret Thatcher... – and yes, of course, Salvador Dalí... are in the frame.

The Battle of Normandy, the May '68 riots... in France; Vietnam, 9/11... 150 photographs by 65 top-flight camera-wielders are placed in the context of the mid-twentieth to early twenty-first century glory days of picture editing.

Filters or no filters, traditional or digital, journalistic or artistic, there's 'nothing' to photography 'really': pick a topic; zero in on somebody, a place or object that tells the story; then 'just' keep clicking; and, last but not least, select the pic that speaks volumes. Nothing, but sheer 'magic' - and both of these shows reflect that invisible factor!

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