What Emotion Is the Sun For You?

For Veuve Clicquot and a collective of Magnum photographers, the sun is a celebration of light.

There is no picture without the sun. Without the sun, there’s no life,” says Lindokuhle Sobekwa, looking out at a selection of sun-soaked photos of his showcased at Garden Senato in Milan. Sobekwa is one of eight photographers called to participate in Emotions of the Sun, a travelling photography exhibition presented by Veuve Clicquot and Magnum Photos.

Maison Veuve Clicquot has long been known for its signature yellow. With the maison’s partnership with Magnum Photos—the agency founded in 1947 by photographers Henri Cartier-Bresson, Robert Capa, and David “Chim” Seymour—Emotions of the Sun is a photographic celebration of all things yellow and bright, the sun interpreted as a universal joy. “The purpose of this exhibition is to share what the sun can bring as emotion,” Jean-Marc Gallot, CEO for Veuve Clicquot, commented at the opening. While the champagne house has collaborated with various artists over the years—Yayoi Kusama, Tom Dixon, Paola Paronetto, Karim Rashid—this is the first time Veuve Clicquot has worked with photographers, the collective of eight being: Olivia Arthur, Nanna Heitmann, Steve McCurry, Cristina de Middel, Trent Parke, Lindokuhle Sobekwa, Newsha Tavakolian, and Alex Webb. The brief was simple—to capture emotions that the sun inspires in them—and each photographer responded with moments linked to the theme of the sun.



Photo by Alex Webb. Courtesy of Magnum Photos and Veuve Clicquot.


Photo by Lindokuhle Sobekwa. Courtesy of Magnum Photos and Veuve Clicquot.


Photo by Steve McCurry. Courtesy of Magnum Photos and Veuve Clicquot.


Cristina de Middel translates a phantasmagorical universe through various props—notably a yellow balloon—set amidst the sand dunes and water in Salvador de Bahia, Brazil, choosing to symbolize the sun rather than show it. Oliva Arthur recalls the serenity of childhood summers, while for Newsha Tavakolian, the sun is a nourishing presence as symbolized in her hotel room settings. Lindokuhle Sobekwa celebrates the miracles of nature that happen every day, like a fiery sunset or flowers opening their petals. As he states, “The idea of the sun being nurturing for flowers and humans and the engagement that humans have with nature.”

Steve McCurry’s majestic photographs are dedicated to the sun on Mount Fuji in Japan—as McCurry notes, “the sun is on their flag.” McCurry is a celebrated visual storyteller, having captured some of the most iconic images of the 20th and 21st centuries: his portrait The Afghan Girl is one of the most recognized photographs of the modern day. “Light is everything in photography,” he says. And while for “this project I needed a strong light component,” McCurry prefers a muted, soft, low-contrast light. What emotion is the sun for McCurry? “You look forward to the sun rising, and you don’t want the day to end. You want the light to remain, and when it eventually sets, ugh,” he says with an exasperated sigh. “It’s disappointing, because you want to keep working, playing, being outside. It’s inconceivable to think about life without light.”



Photo by Trent Parke. Courtesy of Magnum Photos and Veuve Clicquot.


Photo by Nanna Heitmann. Courtesy of Magnum Photos and Veuve Clicquot.


Photo by Cristina De Middel. Courtesy of Magnum Photos and Veuve Clicquot.


Alex Webb plays with light and shadow in her photographs, while Trent Parke, who considers the sun and ocean to be the two ultimate forces of life, shows both together, captured at the end of the day. Nanna Heitmann, a revered contributor for The New York Times and The New Yorker, presents a theatrical series for which she photographed sweeping garments in the hypnotic mountain ranges behind the otherworldly desert of Spain’s Bardenas Reales..

“The very first bottle of Veuve Clicquot that was shipped outside of France was sent to Venice in 1772, the year Veuve Clicquot was founded, and the link with Italy has endured for over 250 years,”Gallot notes. Emotions of the Sun was presented at Milan Design Week and is now en route to New York before it heads to Japan. “Veuve Clicquot is champagne, but we are more than champagne,” he says. “We try to bring joy and optimism—we have this incredible yellow on the label—and because in everything we do, we try to be unpredictable and bring audacity to our product.” Veuve Clicquot brings new meaning to sun salutation.


Photo by Newsha Tavakolian. Courtesy of Magnum Photos and Veuve Clicquot.


Photo by Olivia Arthur. Courtesy of Magnum Photos and Veuve Clicquot.