The documentary photographer Stuart Franklin is responsible for taking one of the most powerful photographs in the history of the 20th century: the "Tank Man," a shot of a lone man bringing a halt to a line of tanks entering Beijing’s Tiananmen Square in 1989. A longtime member of Magnum Photos who served as president of the photo agency between 2006-2009, Franklin has just published a Phaidonbook, The Documentary Impulse, in which he explores the human drive behind documentary photography. Here he introduces a collection of his favorite works by other artists on Artspace.
Adriatic Sea (Staged) Dancing People Series
I’m drawn to the sunniness of the photographs, the strange buzz of arranged social life on an Italian beach, the soft, soft shadows, and the color palette (cerulean blue and ochre). Roll on, summer.
Blast #14117, 2007
Hatakeyama’s industrial work is hugely impressive. His work on lime kilns in Japan, which was published in 2002, is complemented by the impressive “Blast” series from 2007. Color is one of Hatakeyama’s great strengths.
Vevey, Switzerland, 2009
I have always admired Iturbide’s work. This picture is atypical of her larger oeuvre, yet it’s an inspiring and powerfully captured tree photograph. With arms and fingers reaching out, trees always feel so connected to us. Iturbide makes this relationship explicit.
Aung San Suu Kyi; Yangon, Burma, 21 March, 2011
Meet Burma’s new foreign minister, through this portrait that at first glance seems so straightforward—yet, upon closer inspection, there are so many layers of meaning being unraveled here.
Mechanical Form 0046, Material Testing Machine, 2005
Sugimoto’s photographs have always been imbued with enormous care and precision. This print of a mechanical form, which recalls the work of Andreas Renger-Patzsch, is distinguished by its flat and yet glowing light, which looks something like moonlight.
Pivot Irrigation #16, High Plains, Texas Panhandle, 2012
When Burtynsky achieves the perfection—in color, light, composition, and so forth—that he struggles so hard to achieve in every picture, the image speaks of a majestic yet disquieting conjunction between man and nature.
RFK: Funeral Train USA Tour, 1968
Fusco’s book RFK: Funeral Train (2000) is a landmark work of poetry and reportage. The work is a soulful salute to Robert F. Kennedy, who was assassination in 1968. Fusco, who traveled from New York to Washington on the funeral train, caught the shocked and respectful mood of a nation.
Haigh Street, Everton, Liverpool, 1975
Trevor is one of the unsung heroes of 20th-century British documentary photography. This photograph of a school in Everton is part of a wider body of work he made for the Exit Photography Group, one that focused on Britain’s inner cities in the 1970s. I am drawn to its darkness, its claustrophobia.
All Night Taco Stand, Av. Gustavo Baz Prada, El Country, 2004
This is a picture from a series on outdoor fast-food eateries in the United States. Dow works in large format, and his shadows are soft and the colors magical. Do see his 1980s work on English shop-fronts.
Morocco, Meknes, Moulay Ismael Mausoleum, 1985
There is a seductive simplicity to Barbey’s picture from Meknes, part of a large body of work on Morocco. Barbey’s photographs are generally subtle, considered, and beautifully shot. This one is no exception.