Magnum Artists

Editorial Design

A new book for Laurence King and Magnum Photos showcasing the relationship between the world’s greatest photographers and the world’s greatest artists.

Pentagram has designed ‘Magnum Artists’, a new art and photography book published by Laurence King. 

Since the 1930s, Magnum Photos has documented the world’s major events and personalities. For the first time, Magnum Artists brings together a collection of over 200 photographs that define the unique relationship between the world’s greatest photographers and the world’s greatest artists. Featured subjects include Matisse and Picasso by Robert Capa, Takashi Murakami by Olivia Arthur, Warhol and de Kooning by Thomas Hoepker, Bonnard by Henri Cartier-Bresson, Kiki Smith by Susan Meiselas, and many more. The book features candid portraits of some of the most influential men and women to shape visual culture in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. 

The cover features an intriguing shot of the photographic process in progress—in this case, Salvador Dali having his portrait taken by Philippe Halsman, and the book opens with an introduction by author and editor of the British Journal of Photography, Simon Bainbridge. 

The showcase is organised alphabetically by artist, each represented from the point of view of one (or in a few cases, like Matisse and Picasso, more) Magnum photographers. The pace of the layout is dictated by the photographs, which, as expected, take centre stage.

The candid images give us a unique perspective on the story of modern and contemporary art, taking it out of the pristine gallery or museum space and into the working studio, with all the artist’s materials (and often mess) on show. The images show us the human side of art—they put faces to artworks and reveal the personalities behind the familiar paintings, installations and sculptures.

The typographic treatment is understated, with the navigation and captions contextualising the image set in a small point size, to create texture whilst delivering content with clarity. These retain a secondary role to both the images and the quotes by the photographers, which appear throughout the book. These quotes help to give us a fascinating insight into both the artist and the artworks they make, as well as the relationship between the photographer and their subject.

The book is fascinating for anyone interested in art or photography, and compulsive reading for anyone interested in both.

Astrid Stavro
Project team
Susanna Foppoli
View all images