Specialists in the Field: Keavy Handley-Byrne & Diana Flatto at Magnum Manifesto

Specialists in the Field is our segment devoted to specialists incorporating their work into their lives and vice versa. Keavy Handley-Byrne of our Photographs & Photobooks department contributed.


Over the last two years, my colleague Diana Flatto from the Prints & Drawings department has been working towards an MA with a curatorial certificate at Hunter College, the culmination of which will be an exhibition entitled Framing Community: Magnum Photographs 1947-Present. Through Swann, Diana and I were lucky enough to connect and become friends around photography and art, frequently visiting museums together and sharing discourse surrounding both classical and contemporary photographs. Most recently, we visited the closing weekend of Magnum Manifesto at the International Center of Photography.


Diana Flatto at Magnum Manifesto at the International Center of Photography.


Magnum is one of the most far-reaching and well-known networks of photographers in the world. The work included in this show ran the gamut of their oeuvre, giving a sampling of important works by Magnum photographers from multiple generations working all over the globe. In terms of contemporary photography, a few old friends were prominently featured; Inge Morath’s Mask Series, a kind of artistic collaboration with Saul Steinberg, could be found in the third room of the exhibition on their own wall. An image from the project will be offered in our October 19 auction of Art & Storytelling: Photographs & Photobooks.


Inge Morath, from Saul Steinberg: Mask Series, 1962.


Additionally, works by Danny Lyon from his series Conversations with the Dead and the magazine spreads in which they appeared were presented in a striking and timely way. Magazine spreads were present throughout the earlier generation’s portions of the exhibition, keying into a more recent fascination with press prints, ephemera and vernacular photography.


Danny Lyon, magazine spread with material from
Conversations with the Dead, 1971.


One of the most important aspects of the show highlighted that Magnum is a living, growing organization that continues to encourage photographers to document their worlds, however large or small they may be. Contemporary photographs and photobooks were abundant, and seeing them contextualized under the auspices of Magnum brought home the versatility of the medium, and indeed, how various the distinctions of “documentary photography” can be.


Mikhael Subotzky, from the Ponte City series, circa 2011, with zine-like book maquettes.


Martin Parr, 7 Communist Still Lifes, 2003.


Thankfully, attending exhibitions of this sort always reminds me that I am never finished learning about photography, and never finished drawing important and edifying connections between contemporary photography and its forebears.


Diana Flatto admiring works by Olivia Arthur.


Keavy Handley-Byrne lost in Mediterranean Sea, 2015, by Paolo Pellegrin.