Mad Men

Henri Cartier-Bresson, Burt Glinn, Leonard Freed, Inge Morath, Elliot Erwitt, Dennis Stock, Philippe Halsman, Cornell Capa, Bruce Davidson, Sergio Lorain and Eric Hartmann are not a bad eleven, and even if a few of the team aren’t on their best form,  The Mad Men Era, Magnum/Slates ‘Today’s Pictures’ a week ago are an interesting selection.

The 19 images, which date from around 1958 to 1968, are largely from New York and from the offices of the advertising industry of the era, and doubtless some are from Madison Avenue itself and largely represent that kind of business culture. But as a set on that title, it would have been stronger had the selection been a little tighter, and I think there are several that really don’t fit (and one I’d have put straight in my own reject pile let alone Magnum’s.)

Though one of those I would have rejected as not really fitting the subject is one of my favourite images from the era, just from a very different culture and style to Mad Men. Sergio Larrain’s out of focus commuter in front of the escalator at Baker St is a part of a very different business and photographic culture to the rest of the batch.

Had I been editing a set of the same title from those on Slate, I would probably have ended with 12 pictures rather than the 19 here. Of course if I was working with Magnum’s library there would almost certainly have been others I would have wanted to add, but I think it makes a nice exercise to take this set and edit them, perhaps even sequence them.

I’m not – at least not for the moment – going to say which other images I think don’t really belong in the set either because they don’t belong or simply aren’t strong enough. I’d be interest to hear whether other people agree with me that there are pictures that would better have been omitted, and if so, whether they images they would cull are the same as mine. I’d argue that there are around two others than don’t really fit the theme, and about the same number that simply don’t quite make it as pictures or lack the kind of ironic viewpoint that is common to the rest.

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