Sixty years of amazing photography

A few years ago, my folks and I were at the Tate Modern in London when they bought me what remains one of the best books I own: A heavy, four-inch thick Magnum Photos retrospective, full of more than a thousand of the best photographs of the last half-century. It's without question one of those few books I plan on carrying with me from apartment to apartment, one that will always be spared the clutches of eBay when it's time to choose what stays and goes.

That's why it's great to hear that Magnum Photos turns 60 this year. The cooperative is behind some of the most iconic photographs the world has seen: a lone dissident staring down tanks in Tiananmen; Brooklynites watching the towers burn on 9/11; and the portrait of the Afghan girl with the haunting eyes that might just be one of the most famous images in the world. But they do the mundane just as well as they do the momentous. Magnum's photographers have managed to catch world leaders in moments of repose, but their shots of ordinary life are just as powerful. 

To commemorate the anniversary, both Magnum and Wallpaper* have great photo essays of their favorite shots. Neither should be missed. A few standouts:


Hugged or mugged by the panda's rise?

UPI/Zogby Interactive released a survey last Wednesday showing that 60 percent of Americans see China as an "economic threat" to the United States.

And on Friday, The Chicago Council on Global Affairs and released a more extensive poll that explores views toward China in 17 countries around the world. Asked about the possibility that China's economy grows as large of that of the United States, only a minority of respondents in each of these countries saw this potential development as "mostly negative."

The results for the United States are somewhat more ambiguous: 33 percent—the highest among the countries surveyed—saw a China at economic parity as mostly negative, with 54 percent viewing such an outcome as equal parts positive and negative. Just nine percent said this would be mostly positive.

It's perilous to compare polls to one another, but I think both surveys reveal at least uncertainty about China's rise in the United States—fertile ground for politicians to whip up anti-China sentiments, but also an opportunity for the Chinese government to provide reassurance. Expect a fierce tug-of-war for the hearts and minds of the American public in 2008, with the elections in the United States on one side of the rope, and the likely spectacular Olympics in Beijing on the other.