Arnold Newman

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Arnold Newman
Arnold Newman in 1981.jpg
Arnold Abner Newman

(1918-03-03)March 3, 1918
New York, New York, United States
DiedJune 6, 2006(2006-06-06) (aged 88)
New York, New York, United States
Known forPortrait Photography
News Photography
Photography Teacher
Notable work
MovementEnvironmental Portraiture (founder/coined phrase)
AwardsInfinity Award (1999)
Lucie Award (2004)

Arnold Abner Newman (3 March 1918 - June 6, 2006) was an American photographer, noted for his "environmental portraits" of artists and politicians. He was also known for his carefully composed abstract still life images.

Early life and career[edit]

Born in Manhattan, Newman grew up in Atlantic City, New Jersey and later moved to Miami Beach, Florida. In 1936, he studied painting and drawing at the University of Miami. Unable to afford continuing after two years, he moved to Philadelphia to work for a studio, making 49-cent portraits in 1938.

Newman returned to Florida in 1942 to manage a portrait studio in West Palm Beach. Three years later, he opened his own business in Miami Beach.

In 1946, Newman relocated to New York, opened Arnold Newman Studios and worked as a freelance photographer for Fortune, Life, and Newsweek. Though never a member, Newman frequented the Photo League during the 1940s.[1]

Success as a photographer[edit]

Newman found his vision in the empathy he felt for artists and their work. Although he photographed many personalities—Marlene Dietrich, John F. Kennedy, Harry S. Truman, Piet Mondrian, Pablo Picasso, Arthur Miller, Marilyn Monroe, Ronald Reagan, Mickey Mantle, and Audrey Hepburn—he maintained that even if the subject is not known, or is already forgotten, the photograph itself must still excite and interest the viewer.

Newman is often credited with being the first photographer to use so-called environmental portraiture, in which the photographer places the subject in a carefully controlled setting to capture the essence of the individual's life and work. Newman normally captured his subjects in their most familiar surroundings with representative visual elements showing their professions and personalities. A musician for instance might be photographed in their recording studio or on stage, a Senator or other politician in their office or a representative building. Using a large-format camera and tripod, he worked to record every detail of a scene.

"I didn't just want to make a photograph with some things in the background," Newman told American Photo magazine in an interview. "The surroundings had to add to the composition and the understanding of the person. No matter who the subject was, it had to be an interesting photograph. Just to simply do a portrait of a famous person doesn't mean a thing."[2]

Newman's best-known images were in black and white, although he often photographed in color. His 1946 black and white portrait of Igor Stravinsky seated at a grand piano[3] became his signature image, even though it was rejected by Harper's Bazaar, the magazine that gave the assignment to Newman.[2][4] He was one of the few photographers allowed to make a portrait of the famously camera-shy Henri Cartier-Bresson.

Among Newman's best-known color images is an eerie portrait from 1963 that shows former Nazi industrialist and minister of armament Alfried Krupp in one of Krupp's factories. Newman admits his personal feelings influenced his portrayal of Krupp.[2][4][5]

On December 19, 2005, Arnold made his last formal portrait of director James (Jimmy) Burrows at the NBC studio on the Saturday Night Live stage. This session was particularly special for Newman because he had photographed Jimmy's father Abe Burrows several times.[6]

Newman taught photography at Cooper Union for many years. He was recovering from a stroke when he died at Mt. Sinai Medical Center, New York.[7]


"One Mind's Eye, The Portraits and Other Photographs of Arnold Newman", by Arnold Newman, Introduction by Robert A. Sobieszek, David R. Godine, Publisher, 1974.

"Arnold Newman", Essay by Phillip Brookman, Taschen, 2006.



  1. ^ Arnold Newman bio at The Jewish Museum
  2. ^ a b c Harris, Mark Edward (March–April 2000). "ARNOLD NEWMAN: the stories behind some of the most famous portraits in the 20th century". American Photo. pp.36-38: Hachette Filipacchi. Retrieved October 1, 2014.
  3. ^ "Behind the lens: Arnold Newman (7)". Getty Images. Retrieved October 1, 2014.
  4. ^ a b Grundberg, Andy (June 7, 2006). "Arnold Newman, Portrait Photographer Who Captured the Essence of His Subjects, Dies at 88". The New York Times. The New York Times. Retrieved October 1, 2014.
  5. ^ "Behind the lens: Arnold Newman (11)". Getty Images. Retrieved October 1, 2014.
  6. ^ "Stories about Arnold". Arnold Newman Archive. 2006. Archived from the original on 2014-07-28.
  7. ^ Death of Arnold Newman reported by MSNBC
  8. ^ "Missouri Honor Medal Winners: Individuals". Missouri School of Journalism. Retrieved 16 November 2015.
  9. ^ Newman's biography at the ICP website for his 1999 Infinity Award Archived June 19, 2006, at the Wayback Machine
  10. ^ 2004 Lucie Award information
  11. ^ Royal Photographic Society's Centenary Award

External links[edit]