Newman_Arnold_w01.jpg

World famous photographer Arnold Newman has passed away at the age of 88.

Mr. Newman was credited with popularizing a style of photography that became known as environmental portraiture. Working primarily on assignment for magazines, he carried his camera and lighting equipment to his subjects, capturing them in their surroundings and finding in those settings visual elements to evoke their professions and personalities.

Perhaps his most celebrated image is a 1946 portrait of the composer Igor Stravinsky.[ed.: shown above]

Mr. Newman’s methods had more in common with the candid, photojournalistic style of portraiture developed by Henri Cartier-Bresson and Alfred Eisenstaedt. But he was more deliberate about composition; his gift for formal design was always much in evidence. He used a large-format camera and tripod to ensure that every detail of a scene was recorded.

“As my own approach took form, it became evident that a good portrait had first to be a good photograph,”

Mr. Newman’s best-known images were in black and white, although he often photographed in color. Several of his trademark portraits were reproduced in color and in black and white. Perhaps the most famous was a sinister picture of the German industrialist Alfried Krupp, taken for Newsweek in 1963. Krupp, long-faced and bushy-browed, is made to look like Mephistopheles incarnate: smirking, his fingers clasped as he confronts the viewer against the background of a assembly line in the Ruhr. In the color version his face has a greenish cast.

The impression it leaves was no accident: Mr. Newman knew that Krupp had used slave labor in his factories during the Nazi reign and that he had been imprisoned after World War II for his central role in Hitler’s war machine.

“When he saw the photos, he said he would have me declared persona non grata in Germany,” Mr. Newman said of Krupp.

In 1953 Mr. Newman’s work was the subject of a second museum exhibition, at the Art Institute of Chicago, and by the end of the 50’s his pictures were so pervasive — many as advertising assignments — that he was voted one of the world’s 10 best photographers in a poll published by Popular Photography magazine.

Mr. Newman remained characteristically caustic about the enthusiasm for what is now known as art photography. “Those who call themselves art photographers are pompous, arrogant egoists,” he told The Detroit News in 1993.

In looking him up, I cam across this list of Jewish photographers. It’s an extraordinary list although it seems incomplete.

About the author

themiddle

7 Comments

  • I’d add Gary Schneider, Tina Barney, Man Ray, and Joel Meyerowitz to the list.

    The photography critic Max Kozloff wrote an essay a few years ago for a Jewish Museum exhibition catalogue about NYC-based Jewish photographers. As I recall, he connected Jewish identity and photographic practice, making a case for a Jewish photographic aesthetic.

  • word to the wise – photos look like crap if they aren’t resized properly. Gotta do justice to the dead mans work, no?

    In any case, it’s fixed now.

  • Equipoise, thanks for the link, that was interesting to read and the pic is amazing.

    Laya, thanks for fixing the pic.

    Tom, there is some irony here in that there is a prohibition on graven images in Judaism and yet that list represents some brilliant photographers who are among the finest of the past century. By the way, I believe that prohibition on graven images is one of the reasons Jews are not all that well represented in painting and sculpture. Sure, we have our Chagall and Rothko and a few others, but overall I don’t think Jews have had as great of a representation as in other fields including literature, music or science and academe.

    As for your comment about Piano in the other discussion, I like him and think he’s very intelligent. But I’m not moved by his work. I’ll never forget the first time I saw Kahn’s Salk Institute building in a photo and then was fortunate enough to see it in person. I was absolutely overwhelmed and felt I could spend hours there just looking at the building. I had a similar feeling the first time I saw the Centre Pompidou and Safdie’s Habitat. To be fair to Gehry, his Guggenheim in Bilbao also struck me in the same way but I dislike much of his other work including the Guggenheim derivative buildings (even if it’s just the fruit of the same philosophy).

  • I heard that the prohibition on graven images only applies to three-dimensional images, meaning sculpture, to avoid idolatry. A real solid Thing you could ascribe magical powers to. Flat images being OK.

    Maybe that is only a lenient ruling, who knows. Yes, Morrissey, there does seem to be some kind of Jewish photographic mentality, or sensibility.

  • Agree with you enthusiastically about Louis kahn, Middle. I had the privilege of spending many hours in the Kahn’s first and last completed buildings, right across the street from one another– the Yale Univ. Art Gallery and the Yale Center for British Art. The Gallery is as dark and glowering as the YCBA is airy and spacious, but both are wonderful, deeply expressive buildings.

    An architect friend remarked re Gehry that when his forms function as metaphor, e.g. modernist abstraction in Bilbao, the designs succeed; when they don’t work in that way, you get generic, far less impressive Gehry (e.g. the Strata Center at MIT).

Leave a Comment