Posted Friday, Oct. 5, 2012, at 8:11 AM
Behold replaces Slate’s previous daily photo feature, Today’s Pictures, which drew exclusively from Magnum’s archives. You will still find Magnum photos on Slate, in the form of a weekly photo blog entry and other occasional projects.
For seven years, Slate featured a different gallery created from Magnum’s archive every single weekday. I was the person digging through the archive and piecing these Today’s Pictures galleries together since March of 2011. In that time, I worked with a vast range of photos – from giant veggies to D-Day operations. As I compiled these slideshows, I often happened upon incredible images that were totally unrelated. I would file these away in the “possibilities” folder.
The images below are my seven favorites from that folder. They never quite fit in any gallery and that’s part of what makes them so incredible.
Philippe Halsman/Magnum Photos.
Caption. Spain. Salvador Dali in bed in 1964, projecting pieces of dirty paper "to stimulate his inspiration.”
Photographer Philippe Halsman collaborated with Salvador Dali for years and from time to time Today’s Pictures has featured some of the resulting images. This intimate, behind the scenes photo of Dali “at work” never quite fit into one of these galleries. Part of what I love about it is, in true Dali fashion, the photo and caption are completely disorienting.
Inge Morath/The Inge Morath Foundation/Magnum Photos.
Caption. Lola Ruiz, the sister of Pablo Picasso, with her children Jaime and Lolita in Barcelona, Spain in 1954.
I’ve been head over heels in love with this photo for years, but have never really known what to make of it. Each of the three figures looks to be from an entirely different era, each seemingly existing on a different plane. The fact that the figures are Picasso’s sister, niece, and nephew only adds to the mystique. In her notes on the shoot, photographer Inge Morath describes arriving in the Barcelona apartment at the appointed time of 11 pm, to find a space “cluttered with a diversity of artistic objects”, musical instruments, and Picasso paintings. The painting in the background is Picasso’s depiction of his sister’s first communion. According to the story notes, elsewhere in the building, Picasso’s nephew had a medical office, where Picasso paintings sat side by side with surgical instruments and plaster casts of deformed feet.
Caption: USA. National Potato Chip Institute convention. 1948.
There’s a joke to be made here about fulfilling multiple classic male desires at once, but let’s take a second to consider the fact there was a potato chip convention in the first place. Greasy swag?
Caption: The Geneva Summit. Swiss diplomats await the "Big Four": U.S. President Dwight D. Eisenhower, Soviet Union Premier Nikolai Bulganin, British Prime Minister Anthony Eden & French premier Edgard Faure in July 1955.
Yes, those are fingerprints. This photo initially caught my eye in thumbnail form. I liked the dark suits, the hats, the diplomats dropping their guard for a moment to goof off. The photo stuck with me despite, or perhaps because of the physicality of those fingerprints. Left as is, likely unintentionally smeared, it acknowledges the role of photographer in processing a critical moment in history.
Caption: Germany, 1956. Balloons are launched at a rate of 700 an hour during favorable weather conditions. The balloons are full of newspapers from Germany towards Poland.
George Rodger was one of Magnum’s founders. He’s best known for his World War II era photos and his work about the Nuba community in Sudan. The enigmatic caption put this photo in is own special category. After a bit of digging, it looks like these are “Balloons of Freedom”, filled with pamphlets aimed at people living behind the Iron Curtain.
Caption: USA. Sing-O-Meter. 1953.
Between 1950 and 1961, Burt Glinn shot over 250 stories for Life magazine. Many of the less traditionally “newsworthy” stories weren’t digitized when Magnum first began the process. Magnum’s archive director has been working his way through this material recently and there are some real gems here, like this. Even without knowing more than that a sing-o-meter measures the loudness at which children sing, this photo stands on its own.
Caption: Seattle, Washington. Four Poster Bed Fraternity Party. 1954.
Who? Why ? What? Who knows. But frat parties evidently made for far more interesting pictures in 1954 than they do today.