RAW Welcomes Magnum Photos to NFTs
Brileigh Hardcastle
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Matthew Brooks
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RAW Reflections
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August 17th, 2022

By Brileigh Hardcastle and Matthew Brooks

Magnum 75 #29 by Ara Guler. Istanbul, Turkey. 1986
Magnum 75 #29 by Ara Guler. Istanbul, Turkey. 1986

RAW DAO is excited to announce that we have acquired five pieces from the Magnum Photos 75 Collection. Created in celebration of its 75th year, this collection brings together photographers from Magnum’s 75 years of image making. The collection was curated by Alejandro Cartagena, co-founder of Obscura and Fellowship Trust, and founding artist of RAW DAO. The works were collected via RAW’s Ad hoc acquisition system which allows the DAO to acquire works in a more nimble way in response to the market.

Below is the list of Magnum photographers whose work we collected:

Magnum 75 #67 by Lorenzo Meloni. Paris, France. 2016
Magnum 75 #67 by Lorenzo Meloni. Paris, France. 2016

What is Magnum Photos?

Following the events of WWII, Magnum Photos was co-founded by Robert Capa, Henri Cartier-Bresson, George Rodger, and David “Chim” Seymour. All four photographers experienced the physical and mental destruction that took place during the war. They came together as one of the first photographic cooperatives that would allow members to own the copyright to their images with staff that would support photographers instead of directing them. Rumor has it that the name "Magnum" comes from the magnum bottles of wine that they would drink during every meeting.

Magnum 75 #55 by Sabiha Çimen. Istanbul, Turkey. 2018
Magnum 75 #55 by Sabiha Çimen. Istanbul, Turkey. 2018

For the last 75 years, Magnum photographers have worked together with a common vision to become one of the most respected and well-known photography collectives in the world. Alejandro has often referred to Magnum as the “original DAO”

Magnum is the original DAO in the sense that it was a group of people that got together to back a common idea of how photography should be consumed, produced, and delivered to the world. The agency built up a membership model that required people to earn their way in and the income would help everyone. The good news that happens for one person elevates all of the other people in the group, so for me that sounds very much like a DAO. The thing is that we just didn’t have that name back then.

Magnum 75 #53 by Bieke Depoorter. Paris, France. 2017
Magnum 75 #53 by Bieke Depoorter. Paris, France. 2017

Photography has changed rapidly in the last 75 years, evolving with technology that has enabled new ways for people to create images. Magnum has now joined us to embrace the emergence of NFTs as a medium that will change the future of photography.

Christina De Middel was recently named the new director of Magnum Photos. Notably, she was also the first artist that RAW brought to the NFT space with her series THE AFRONAUTS. This collection marks history not only for Magnum Photos, but for the broader photography community as we welcome more artists joining us in the web3 space.

Magnum 75 #27 by Alessandra Sanguinetti. Abu Dis, West Bank. 2004
Magnum 75 #27 by Alessandra Sanguinetti. Abu Dis, West Bank. 2004

RAW DAO—along with many other DAOs—emerged not long after the pandemic swept across the globe, causing a period of distance, suffering, and instability. Fingerprints and RAW's founding artists came together to create a new organization that would recognize and signal the value of photography NFTs. In some ways RAW's formation mirrors Magnum, as Henri Cartier-Bresson explains in an interview with Hervé Guibert in Le Monde that “at the time of the liberation, the world having been disconnected, people had a new curiosity.” Members of RAW DAO are working together to shape the future of photography through a decentralized curation process, giving both collectors and photographers a hand in the crucial role of supporting other photographers.

To listen to the full story of Alejandro finding photography, NFTs, and building community, check out the latest episode of the RAW Review on Apple and Spotify.

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