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Samantha McCoy

Magnum, the renowned photo agency representing some of the world’s greatest photographers, is expanding its influence. Alongside its London gallery, Magnum recently announced the opening of a new gallery in Paris. This venture marks Magnum’s first exhibition space in the city in over a decade. At the helm of this exciting development is Samantha McCoy, the Director of Magnum, Paris. With her deep knowledge and unwavering passion for the medium, McCoy is set to redefine the art scene in the City of Lights.

A lifelong connection to the art world

Samantha McCoy’s connection to the art world runs deep. From a young age, she was immersed in the vibrant art scene through her father’s gallery, Jason McCoy Gallery, in New York City. Her upbringing, filled with gallery visits, openings, and exposure to influential artists, instilled in her a profound appreciation for art’s integral role in history, culture, and self-identity. McCoy’s great-uncle, the renowned Jackson Pollock, further fueled her passion by showcasing the power of art to capture the pulse of America in the 20th century.

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A journey to Magnum

McCoy’s journey to Magnum began at the Jason McCoy Gallery, where she worked for four years. As she curated exhibitions alongside modern masters, her curiosity in photography as a medium blossomed. When an opportunity arose to join Magnum, McCoy eagerly seized it. The allure of working directly with Magnum’s 100+ affiliated photographers and estates, without intermediaries, resonated deeply with her. It was the perfect platform for her to immerse herself in the field and contribute to the organization’s rich legacy.

McCoy’s role at Magnum

As the Gallery Director at Magnum, Paris, McCoy’s responsibilities encompass presenting exhibitions and working closely with collectors to place artworks in prestigious collections worldwide. Collaborating with Nicolas Smirnoff, the gallery director in London, she also curates art fairs and special projects. Together, they ensure that Magnum’s photographers receive the recognition and representation they deserve. With each day offering unique challenges and opportunities, McCoy considers it an honor to represent Magnum, a brand synonymous with prestige and historical significance.

A glimpse into Magnum’s exhibitions

Magnum’s recent exhibitions in Paris, held at its former space, showcased the works of renowned photographers Harry Gruyaert and Josef Koudelka. Gruyaert’s exhibition celebrated his revelation that color photography was his preferred medium, highlighting his significant contributions over 40 years. Koudelka’s exhibition, titled “Ruins,” offered captivating panoramic photographs of archaeological sites throughout the Mediterranean, showcasing the poignant history of civilizations long past.

The thinking behind the new Paris gallery

Magnum’s upcoming gallery in the 11th arrondissement of Paris marks a strategic move to a more accessible location. While the previous space mostly served as a working environment for Magnum’s photographers and staff, the new gallery aims to engage the public and institutions alike. With its prime location near other prominent art galleries and cultural landmarks, Magnum’s Paris gallery will become a vibrant hub for photography enthusiasts and art connoisseurs. It will offer a diverse exhibition program, upscale presentations, and a private sales room to showcase extraordinary vintage pieces, bridging the worlds of photojournalism and art.

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Expanding in uncertain times

In an era that has witnessed numerous gallery closures, Magnum’s decision to expand may seem bold. However, McCoy believes that the post-COVID landscape presents opportunities for innovation and creativity. The combination of digital and physical programming, implemented by Magnum, reflects their commitment to adapting to changing circumstances. Despite the initial shift to online exhibitions, McCoy recognizes the importance of physicality in the art world, as it fosters direct engagement and social interaction. With the opening of their Paris gallery, Magnum aims to satiate the public’s appetite for exhibitions and create a space where photography can be celebrated and cherished.

Starting a photography collection

For those interested in starting a photography collection, McCoy advises focusing on personal passions rather than a purely financial agenda. Acquiring fine prints allows collectors to derive daily enjoyment and share their treasures with friends. Magnum offers a diverse range of photography, from experimental contemporary prints to classical vintage and lifetime treasures, catering to every taste. When embarking on the journey of collecting photography, McCoy and her team provide guidance, answering questions about editions, notable museum collections, print quality, and the significance of a photographer’s body of work within an art historical context.

Preserving the art of photography

Collecting photography comes with unique considerations. McCoy emphasizes the importance of conservation techniques specific to the medium. Storing photographs away from direct sunlight, controlling temperature variations, and framing pieces with museum-quality anti-UV plexiglass or glass are essential practices. By following these guidelines, collectors can ensure the longevity and preservation of their valuable photographic artworks.

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Samantha McCoy’s personal favorites

As a lover of art herself, McCoy finds it challenging to choose a favorite piece from her collection. She feels deeply attached to each artwork she acquires. Some notable favorites include an unknown photographer’s jarring image capturing a bomb dropping over an Italian city during World War II and a captivating artwork by Raymond Depardon from his New York Correspondence series. These cherished pieces evoke powerful emotions and remind McCoy of the fragility of life and her connection to home.

The future of photography in the art world

Over the past 50 years, the market for photography has experienced substantial growth, a trend likely to continue in the future. The increasing demand and value placed on photographic artworks are evident in the thriving auction market. As an art form accessible to almost everyone, photography offers a unique perspective on the world and can resonate deeply with viewers.

Looking ahead

McCoy eagerly awaits the opening of Magnum’s new gallery in October, which will showcase an exhibit by Bruce Davidson and Magnum nominee Khalik Allah. This exhibition, spanning 50 years of photography, will offer a captivating glimpse into the evolution of New York City. Alongside this milestone, Magnum is gearing up to celebrate its 75th anniversary in 2022. With a fresh vision, younger collectors, and expanding global opportunities, Magnum is poised to shape the art world for years to come. Paris, with its thriving art scene and cultural resurgence, will undoubtedly serve as the perfect backdrop for Magnum’s continued success.

Interviewed by: Eddy Frankel, author of ARTE Generali

For more information about Magnum and their exciting developments, visit Ratingperson.

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