ARNOLD NEWMAN (1918-2006)

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WAREHOUSE DOOR, WEST PALM BEACH, FL, 1940 by ARNOLD NEWMAN (1918-2006) - photograph for sale from Beetles & Huxley

WAREHOUSE DOOR, WEST PALM BEACH, FL, 1940

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TREE AND WALL, PHILADELPHIA, PA, 1941 by ARNOLD NEWMAN (1918-2006) - photograph for sale from Beetles & Huxley

TREE AND WALL, PHILADELPHIA, PA, 1941

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Early Years

Although Newman was born in New York on 3 March 1918, it would be almost 30 years before he made it his permanent home, in 1946. His father ran a dry-goods business, and then became a hotelier, and Newman's childhood was split between Atlantic City and Miami Beach. Newman had originally intended to become a painter, and took up a working scholarship at the University of Miami. After studying and running small photography studios in Philadelphia and Palm Beach, Newman made his entrée into the New York artistic world in the winter of 1941 42, through the auspices of the Social Realist painter, Raphael Soyer, who not only agreed to be photographed but gave him an introduction to others. By 1946, Newman had opened his first major studio, although Newman habitually worked on location, engaging with the sitter's personality in gradual but thorough ways.

Encouraged by the great photographer, Alfred Steiglitz, who saw and approved of his work in 1942, Newman set about working his way to the top. Soon he was regularly working for 'Fortune', 'Life', ' Newsweek', and 'Harper's Bazaar' photographing, in particular, artists. Newman made his first trip to Europe in 1954, undertaking a variety of assignments, photographing Alberto Giacometti, in Paris, and Pablo Picasso, in Vallauris. In 1949, and back in the United States, Newman provided the images of Jackson Pollock for a profile in Life magazine, and contributed much to the portrait photographer's growing fame. In the same year, Newman met, and worked with, Frank Zachary, who was to become one of the great magazine art directors and editors of his generation. This began a twenty-five year professional relationship, which saw Newman work for 'Portfolio', 'Town & Country', and other significant periodicals.

Environmental Portraits

Arnold Newman has been credited with popularising the "environmental portrait", which places the sitter in surroundings that suit their profession or skill. His famous portrait of Igor Stravinsky, for example, uses the piano to frame, and help define the famous composer. Newman said of his sitters, "it is what they are, not who they are, that fascinates me", and he made his reputation photographing a wide range of highly influential cultural and political figures of the twentieth century, often in their most telling environments, be they home or work. While commonplace today, this technique was not widely used in the 1930s when Newman was learning his craft.

Arnold Newman's archive comprises a catalogue of famous figures of the twentieth century film stars, artists, politicians, sports heroes, and more. He photographed artistic icons such as Max Ernst, Piet Mondrian, Marcel Duchamp, Man Ray, Francis Bacon and David Hockney, Newman's sophisticated eye and technical brilliance won him many fans, and he is remembered today as one of the great American photographers.

Newman died in New York on 6 June 2006.

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