Bob Adelman

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Robert Melvin "Bob" Adelman (October 30, 1930 – March 19, 2016) was an American photographer known for his images of the Civil Rights Movement.


Adelman used his background as a graduate student in Applied Aesthetics from Columbia University to forge close ties with leading figures of art and literature, including Andy Warhol and Samuel Beckett. After studying photography for several years under the tutelage of Harper's Bazaar art director Alexey Brodovitch, Adelman volunteered as a photographer for the Congress of Racial Equality in the early 1960s, a position which granted him access to key leaders of the Civil Rights Movement, including; Malcolm X, Martin Luther King, Jr. and James Baldwin. Adelman's work captured a decade of racial strife during the 1960s, including portraits of Martin Luther King reciting his "I Have a Dream" speech, the 50 mile March from Selma to Montgomery, and King resting in his casket after the assassination. His photos, some of which are archived at the Library of Congress, captured segregation and civil unrest in the South. In 2007, he published his book "Mine Eyes Have Seen: Bearing Witness to the Struggle for Civil Rights".[citation needed]

Westwood Gallery NYC presented the premiere gallery exhibition for Bob Adelman's civil rights photographs in 2008, curated by James Cavello.[1] During the exhibition the gallery held an event on April 4, 2008 marking the 40th anniversary of the death of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.[2] The actress and civil rights advocate Ruby Dee read from Dr. King's "Beyond Vietnam" speech.[3][4] The gallery also exhibited and represents Adelman's photographs of New York artists, including Andy Warhol, Roy Lichtenstein, Tom Wesselmann, James Rosenquist, Robert Indiana, Adolph Gottlieb, other artists and social photographic essays.[5]

His work is also represented by the Howard Greenberg Gallery.[6]

On March 20, 2017, the Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division officially acquired the Bob Adelman photographic archives which included the full spectrum of his work from his famed Civil Rights captures to his less celebrated pornographic bondage images. The archive includes approximately 50,000 prints and 525,000 image negatives and slides.[7]

Personal life[edit]

Adelman was born in Brooklyn, New York, to Eastern European Jewish parents, Anna (Pomerantz) and Samuel Adelman, who was a photographer and craftsman.[8][9] Raised on Long Island, New York, he earned his B.A. at Rutgers University, Law Studies from Harvard University, and M.A. in Philosophy from Columbia University.

Adelman died March 19, 2016, in Miami Beach at the age of 85.[10][11] His girlfriend, Branka, called his daughter, Elizabeth Wurtzel, informing Elizabeth that she was his daughter, breaking the news of his death.[12]

Published works[edit]

  • King, Martin Luther; Adelman, Bob (Ed.);& Johnson, Charles (Intro.). MLK: A Celebration in Word and Image. Beacon Press, 2011. ISBN 978-0-8070-0316-9
  • Adelman, Bob and Hall, Susan. "Gentleman of Leisure: A Year in the Life of a Pimp". New American Library, 1972. ISBN 0913350508
  • Adelman, Bob; Spiegelman, Art (Intro.), and Merkin, Richard (commentary). "Tijuana Bibles: Art and Wit in America's Forbidden Funnies, 1930-1950". Simon & Schuster Editions, c 1997. ISBN 0684834618
  • Adelman, Bob; Tomkins, Calvin (Intro.). "The art of Roy Lichtenstein : Mural with blue brushstroke". Arcade Publishing, c 1987. ISBN 1559702516

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Bob Adelman, Mine Eyes Have Seen, exhibition". Archived from the original on 3 April 2016. Retrieved 21 March 2016.
  2. ^ "Ruby Dee Reads from Dr. Martin Luther King Jr's Beyond Vietnam". Getty Images. Retrieved 21 March 2016.
  3. ^ "Ruby Dee". Good News Planet.
  4. ^ "4 April 1967, Beyond Vietnam". King Encyclopedia. Stanford University.
  5. ^ "Bob Adelman". Westwood Gallery.
  6. ^ Veciana-Suarez, Ana, "Photographer Bob Adelman witnessed historic events in civil rights movement", Miami Herald, August 1, 2010. [1]
  7. ^ "Library Acquires Archives of Master Photographer Bob Adelman". Library of Congress.
  8. ^
  9. ^
  10. ^ Peralta, Eyder. "Bob Adelman, Who Photographed Iconic Civil Rights Moments, Dies". NPR. Retrieved 21 March 2016.
  11. ^ Rosenberg, Carol; Flechas, Joey (March 19, 2016). "Noted civil rights movement photographer found dead at Miami Beach home". The Miami Herald. Retrieved March 20, 2016.
  12. ^ "Elizabeth Wurtzel on Discovering the Truth About Her Parents". December 24, 2018. Retrieved December 27, 2018.

External links[edit]