News Release — September 20, 2013
UT Austin Receives Gift of Magnum Photos Collection from Dell, Fuhrman, Phelan Families
The Magnum Photos collection, which contains nearly 200,000 press prints of images taken by world-renowned Magnum photographers, has been donated to the Harry Ransom Center at The University of Texas at Austin. The gift was made by Michael and Susan Dell, Glenn and Amanda Fuhrman and John and Amy Phelan.
Mr. Dell is Founder, Chairman and CEO of Dell Inc. Messrs. Fuhrman and Phelan are Co-Managing Partners and Co-Founders of MSD Capital, L.P., the private investment firm for Mr. Dell and his family.
"The Dells, the Fuhrmans and the Phelans have given UT one of the richest collections of photographs documenting the visual culture of the 20th century," said university president Bill Powers. "It will serve as a tremendous resource for our students and faculty and for humanities scholars from throughout the world. The Magnum Photos collection is one more example of the Dell family's support of UT, the Austin community and Texas."
The donation of the Magnum Photos collection is expected to be the single-largest gift to the Ransom Center ever, Powers said.
In 2009, the Dells, Fuhrmans and Phelans purchased the collection from Magnum Photos. Since late 2009, the collection has resided at the University's Harry Ransom Center, a humanities research library and museum, where it is being preserved and made accessible for research.
Founded in 1947 by Robert Capa, Henri Cartier-Bresson, David "Chim" Seymour and George Rodger, Magnum Photos was the first cooperative agency to be established and operated by photographers. Membership in the collective gave photographers unprecedented creative, editorial and economic independence, empowering them to document conflict, liberation, revolution and reform while preserving their own points of view.
The press prints in the Magnum Photos collection include some of the most memorable images of the past century, shaping history and revolutionizing photography's influence on modern culture. The prints include famous photos from the Spanish Civil War, the D-Day landings and the Six-Day War, as well as unforgettable scenes of historic events, such as the U.S. Civil Rights movement.
Images of icons from Pablo Picasso to Marilyn Monroe, Martin Luther King, Jr. to Mahatma Gandhi and Fidel Castro to a young Queen Elizabeth co-exist in the collection with depictions of international conflicts, political unrest and cultural strife. Magnum photographers have included Cartier-Bresson, Capa, Elliott Erwitt, Leonard Freed, Bruce Davidson, René Burri, Eve Arnold, Dennis Stock and more than 80 others.
Mr. Dell commented, "My partners and I are very pleased to formally gift this significant cultural resource to The University of Texas. Over the past three years, the University's Harry Ransom Center has served as an extraordinary steward of this substantial and important collection of prints by the world's finest photojournalists, making it accessible to researchers and students for research and study. As it becomes a permanent element of the center, we believe it will enable additional great scholarship and reflection, and catalyze further growth of this outstanding research library and museum and the university more broadly."
The collection, more than 1,300 boxes of photographic materials, has been integrated into the university's curriculum, accessed by students and scholars and promoted through a variety of lectures, seminars and fellowships.
"The establishment of the Magnum Photos collection at the Ransom Center gives the work of these photographers new life," said Stephen Enniss, director of the Ransom Center. "This photographic collection will be an invaluable resource, for decades to come, for students and scholars and all who wish to understand the cultural and historical moment through which we have recently come."
"We are very proud that these New York press prints, a rich part of Magnum's legacy, have been gifted to the Ransom Center, where they will have a long life and permanent home," said Susan Meiselas, Magnum photographer and president of the Magnum Foundation.
The Ransom Center's current exhibition, "Radical Transformation: Magnum Photos into the Digital Age," draws from the vast collection of prints, exploring the evolution of the photo agency from the post-war golden era of the picture magazine to the digital age. Organized by Ransom Center photography curators Jessica S. McDonald and Roy Flukinger, the exhibition includes more than 300 photographs, plus a selection of contact sheets, documents, tear sheets, magazines, books, films, videos and other multimedia. It is on view through Jan. 5, 2014.
Complementing the exhibition is the Ransom Center's symposium "Magnum Photos into the Digital Age." The Oct. 25–27 symposium brings together photographers, curators and historians to discuss the ways in which Magnum Photos has continually reinvented itself from the moment of its founding. Symposium participants include Magnum photographers Christopher Anderson, Bruno Barbey, Michael Christopher Brown, Jim Goldberg, Josef Koudelka, Susan Meiselas, Mark Power, Eli Reed, Moises Saman, Alessandra Sanguinetti, Alec Soth, and Chris Steele-Perkins.
"Reading Magnum: A Visual Archive of the Modern World" is the first publication to examine the Magnum Photos collection itself. Published by University of Texas Press in September and edited by Steven Hoelscher, academic curator of photography at the Ransom Center, the book explores prominent themes in the collection—war and conflict, portraiture, geography, cultural life, social relations and globalization—and includes evocative portfolios of images.
The Dells and the Michael & Susan Dell Foundation have been strong supporters of The University of Texas at Austin. Previous donations to the University include a 2013 grant by the Michael & Susan Dell Foundation of $50 million to establish the Dell Medical School. In 2006, the Michael & Susan Dell Foundation granted $50 million to put Austin at the leading edge of pediatric health research, computer science and the advancement of healthy living. Those grants enabled three new, world-class facilities at The University of Texas at Austin: the Dell Pediatric Research Institute, which complemented the nearby Dell Children's Medical Center; the Dell Computer Science Hall; and the Michael & Susan Dell Center for Healthy Living.