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Visions of paradise

Magnum Photos' June sale offers a collection of images that celebrate the spirit of freedom

Tiananmen Square, Beijing, in 1989. Photo: Stuart Franklin/Magnum Photos
Tiananmen Square, Beijing, in 1989. Photo: Stuart Franklin/Magnum Photos

The year 1968, when Martin Luther King was assassinated, brought a staggering paradigm shift in the definitions of freedom of speech as well as sexual, political and religious freedom. To celebrate this, for its biannual Square Print Sale (in partnership with Tasveer gallery), Magnum Photos invited over 70 of its photographers to select one image from their oeuvre that was emblematic of the theme “Freedom". “In a time of political turmoil, and in the anniversary year of 1968, it felt like an appropriate time to examine the notion of freedom and what it has meant to us as humans over the past century," explains Anne Bourgeois-Vignon, global digital director, Magnum Photos, on email.

At a time when individual and collective freedoms are under threat, these iconic photographs, which mark groundbreaking moments in our shared history, are relevant and inspiring. From Robert Capa’s historically important 1944 image of liberated Paris to Stuart Franklin’s powerful 1989 Tiananmen Square photograph—this rich archive represents human perseverance. There are also five images set in India, two of which are made by photographers Raghu Rai and Sohrab Hura.

Baltimore, Maryland, 31 October 1964

©Leonard Freed/Magnum Photos

Dr Martin Luther King Jr being greeted upon his return to Baltimore after receiving the Noble Peace Prize.

“Dr MLKing Jr.: an icon of peace and freedom."—Elke Susannah Freed, daughter of Leonard Freed

Chennai, India. 2015.

©Chien-Chi Chang/Magnum Photos

“A cyclone was approaching the coast off Chennai in India. We were in the midst of a photo workshop, and most of the participants were dodging the howling rain. But those who let go of everything to be part of the cyclone, had a sweet taste of Mother Nature. Be part of the flow and/or the current, but know who you are. That is, to me, the meaning of freedom."— Chien-Chi Chang

Alabama, USA. 1965

©Bruce Davidson/Magnum Photos

“From 1961 to 1965, I bore witness to various demonstrations in the civil rights movement. In this photograph, a group of demonstrators march from Selma to Montgomery to fight for the right to vote. Freedom was then, as it remains today, something that had to be fought for."—Bruce Davidson

Chile. 1987

©David Alan Harvey/Magnum Photos

“On my wrist is a small tattoo: a red balloon. It’s in honor of the ’50s’ French classic short film The Red Balloon. Saw it when I was a kid...The last scene has been burned into the back of my brain. When I saw this boy in Santiago, that image of freedom popped into my head. There are all kinds of freedom. Creative freedom being one of the most rewarding."—David Alan Harvey

Crowds fill up the Champs-Élysées on 26 August 1944, to celebrate the liberation of Paris. Paris, France

©Robert Capa/International Center of Photography/Magnum Photos

“I would say that the war correspondent gets more drinks, more girls, better pay, and greater freedom than the soldier, but at this stage of the game, having the freedom to choose his spot and being allowed to be a coward and not be executed for it is his torture."— Robert Capa

Village of Jayyous, West Bank, Palestine. 2003.

©Alessandra Sanguinetti/Magnum Photos

“I made this picture on my first trip to Palestine. I remember how coming upon this scene felt like a mirage. All around it were checkpoints, barbed wires, Israeli military jeeps and the hum from the construction of the separation wall; this woman seemed oblivious to it all as she calmly filled her bucket with olives. The wall now cuts through this village, making 75% of the land inaccessible to her and to the farmers who’d worked the land for generations. I dedicate this picture to her and to a future where Palestinians are free from the Israeli occupation of their land and lives." —Alessandra Sanguinetti

The sale runs from 5.30pm, 4 June, to 3.30am, 9 June. Signed and estate stamped, museum quality, 6x6-inch prints will be available for $100 (Rs6,800) on

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