Paul Newman and Magnum Women, at Niemeyer Center

Seventy-four years after its inception the Magnum s agencyIt is still a mostly male club. You just need to check the staff on their own website to check it out. To date, of its 99 full members, only 11 are women. However, it should be remembered that Maria Eisner and Rita Vandivert (later first president) were an integral part of the founding group, information that tends to be omitted.

It seems that in the XXI century the gender issue not only continues to be an unresolved issue but there is still a long way to go. That is why the exhibition Three Magnum women: Eve Arnold, Inge Morath and Cristina García Rodero, which until next January 30 can be seen at the Niemeyer Center in Avilés, should be one of the essential cultural events of the season. Unique looks from three exceptional photographers. For Rosa Olivares, curator of the exhibition: “Each of these images tells us about people looking at other people, because all three openly confront the individual as the key to problems and solutions.”

Eve Arnold, curiosity as inspiration

In 1951, at just 39 years old, Arnold was the first woman to access this exclusive Olympus of photography, although it was not until 1957 that she became a full member. Born in Philadelphia in 1912, her aspirations did not go beyond holding a camera and traveling the world, she dreamed of studying medicine or dedicating herself to dance but fate, always capricious, had other plans for her. An announcement posted in The New York Times, that required an apprentice photographer, was the beginning of a successful and long-lived career.

Paul Newman at the Actors Studio in New York in 1955 © Eve Arnold_Magnum Photos

“I have been poor and wanted to document poverty; I had lost a child and became obsessed with the birth; I was interested in politics and wanted to understand how it affects our lives; I am a woman and I wanted to know about women “, He said. Her humble origins gave her a special sensitivity for social issues as well as a deep empathy for simple people. With the same honesty he photographed a young Paul Newman in the legendary Actors Studio, the sublime elegance of Marlene Dietrich, Marilyn’s sensuality (to which he was joined by a great friendship) or the almighty Margaret Thatcher than to some club dancers, a Miss America parade or an anonymous couple in court about to get divorced.

Eve Arnold said that “The tool is the photographer, not the camera”. The same dogma held by another of the great photographers with whom she shares space.

Cristina García Rodero, the look in the heart

“I have always tried to demystify the camera. The camera itself is not going to give you everything. The camera helps you but the engine is your heart or your head. Having silverware is not going to make your food taste better ”. For Cristina García Rodero, the first of the only three Spanish photographers at Magnum today, this way of understanding the trade allows her to enter the most complex situations with empathy and great respect. The resulting images convey an undeniable emotional charge that seduces and traps the viewer in a magnetic and unmistakable universe.

Scene from Sarracin de Aliste, Zamora.  1990 / CRISTINA GARCIA RODERO

Scene from Sarracin de Aliste, Zamora. 1990 / CRISTINA GARCIA RODERO

More than a decade spent discovering and documenting in depth popular festivals, pagan rites and religious beliefs of our country. An extraordinary visual journey that has become his most significant work. Not only for Spain, his peculiar and unclassifiable gaze has settled on the Kosovar Albanian refugees, he has seen the harshness of a mother burying her little one in Georgia or has recorded the disturbing mourning of some women in Italy. Wherever she is, she always makes sure that her “Way of looking is as tender and emotional as possible. Because life is full of dramas, you find them everywhere ”.

Inge Morath, photography as a necessity

Inge Morath I knew it very well. Very early he noted the cruelty and suffering that human beings are capable of inflicting and suffering. Born in Austria in 1923, in a family related to the Nazi regime, she saw with her own eyes the barbarities of war when, after escaping from a bombardment, in the factory where she worked, she walked hundreds of kilometers to Salzburg to take refuge. The horror that he encountered along the way would mark him deeply. Since then he has always avoided any type of conflict and never wanted to photograph them.

New York's 5th avenue in 1958 / INGE MORATH

New York’s 5th Avenue in 1958 / INGE MORATH

Although photography was a priority for her, “Photography has become a necessity and I didn’t want to give it up for the world”, He once commented that he preferred gentler subjects such as portraits of personalities, fashion or cinema. It was precisely during the filming of Rebellious lives when he had the opportunity to photograph Marilyn Monroe, married at that time to Arthur Miller. After the divorce of the famous star, Morath married in 1962 with the famous playwright with whom she would have two children and with whom she would remain until his death in 2002.

Anthony Perkins, Yves Montand, Yves Saint Laurent, Ingrid Bergman or her husband Arthur Miller are some of the portraits brought for the occasion. You can also see some of the photographs he took during his many trips to Spain. A country that fascinated him especially and that he visited for the first time in 1953 together with Cartier-Bresson.

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Paul Newman and Magnum Women, at Niemeyer Center