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 â€” many as advertising assignments â€” 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.