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March 3: Arnold Newman’s “Environmental” Photography

March 3, 2016

newman_gallery11-1John F. Kennedy on the White House lawn. Igor Stravinsky leaning on his elbow against a grand piano. Leonard Bernstein before the empty seats of an orchestra. Bob Dylan on a cobblestone street. Photographer Arnold Newman, creator of an “environmental” style of photography that posed celebrities in appropriately evocative settings, was born in New York on this date in 1918. Newman worked as a freelancer for Fortune, Life, and Newsweek, and developed a style in which he captured his subjects, most often in black and white, in surroundings connected to their celebrity and their personalities. Among his color images was a 1963 portrait of convicted Nazi war criminal Alfred Krupp in one of Krupp’s factories (shown at left). Learning that Newman was a Jew, Krupp initially refused to pose for him, but changed his mind after viewing Newman’s portfolio — and soon regretted it, seeing the eerie and demonic result. Newman specialized in photographing artists, including Picasso, Braque, Miró, Warhol, Stella, Oldenburg, and Nevelson. He died at 88 in 2006.

“The subject must be thought of in terms of... houses he lives in and places he works, in terms of the kind of light the windows in these places let through and by which we see him every day.” —Arnold Newman