This summer in Paris, beside the traditional visits to the painting and sculpture museums you can also discover the works of some of the greatest photographers in the world. Some of Arnold Newman's most famous masterpieces are on show at the Hotel de Sully in Paris from 28th June to 22nd September, 2002.
ARNOLD NEWMAN: A MASTER OF PORTRAITURE
Some people are destined to be remembered not only through their own achievements but also through the eyes of a peer. Some of the greatest personalities of our time are 'remembered' here in their vital creative space with more poignancy than any other media could have captured.
Each of Arnold Newman's photos is a masterpiece of aesthetic composition, inherent meaning and essential portraiture. There is no better way to portray Igor Stravinsky, whose genius head is held by a prodigious arm that replicates the open arm and harpsichord lid of his grand piano, while his body forms one of the angles of the base of the mystical triangle of man, music and the universe. This portrait is so pure and universal that one cannot help finding hidden hints of a transcendental meaning to it. It is interesting that Stravinsky deemed himself a non-romantic artisan, a sort of a 'minimalist' artist who invented out of necessity, and to those who asked him why he wrote the 'Mass' he replied tartly at my age one works only for money or God.
Similarly, Mondrian's portrait is staged with his arm on his easel like leaning on the shoulder of a best friend; the easel is therefore a friend, his aid in life and work, and at the same time a symbolic cross, inspirer of his infinite verticals and horizontals a cross between the open arms of generosity and the ambition of spirituality, so characteristic of the artist's inner life.
Both these pictures of Stravinsky and Mondrian date from the same black and white epoch of peace just after the world wars, and in both there is this atmosphere of austerity and asceticism that is a hallmark of both men's sharp and perfectionist lucidity that tends towards the essential.
Is Marcel Duchamp thinking of the days when he and his Dada friends wanted to 'assassinate art', when they believed they could step out of all cultural conventions in order to move towards a new world where man becomes his own fabrication?
The jovial Miró is perhaps guessing what Francisco Gali is holding in his hand hidden behind his back (an artistic game they played together). Miró painted what is hidden to our eyes and invented his own 'dictionary' of magical pictures, and this portrait of him is so telling of his playful and inventive personality.
The 'Bacon' man is an isolated animal in an absurd social bubble hermetically interned, a torturer or tortured, a mutant about to be hanged or already executed. The 'beheaded' portrait in hallucinatory confinement could not be of anyone else but the author of 'crucifixion'.
Newman was in no way attracted to celebrity nor to the private life of his subjects; he was only interested in their creative personality. And he admitted that ideas, both conceptual and visual, are the crux of all art forms. This witness to a prolific career leaves no-one in doubt; even though most of his photographs were commissioned by the press, no biographer could have portrayed more effectively these extraordinary people in their intellectual particularity.
Art Lovers' Paris
Arnold Newman was born in New York on 3rd March, 1918. He studied art and graduated from the University of Miami.
He first worked in a portrait studio in Philadelphia and later in Baltimore and Allentown. In 1939 he became the director of the West Palm Beach studio in Florida.
His career began as a portraitist in 1941 when he was encouraged by Beaumont Newhall and Alfred Stieglitz.
In 1945 his one-man exhibition called 'Artists Look Like This' in the Museum of Modern Art of Philadelphia brought him acclaim.
From 1946 he settled in New York and fulfilled many a photographic mission for 'Harper's Bazaar', 'Fortune', 'Life' and other famous magazines.
A photo of his made the cover of 'Life' magazine in August 1947.
1949 marked his marriage with Augusta Rubinstein and a collaboration with Frank Zachary, both of which were to last over half a century.
His reporting about 'What do the American Museums Buy' was published by 'Life' magazine in 1950, and his work was exhibited in 1951 at the Camera Club of New York and received the Photokina prize from Cologne.
In 1952 he photographed the presidential candidates of the epoch for 'Life' magazine.
His first photos of Presidents John Kennedy, Lyndon Johnson as well as Richard Nixon in 1953 were published in a story about the ‘American Senate’ for ‘Holiday’ magazine.
1954 was the year of his trip to Europe with his family while reporting for 'Life', 'Holiday' and other publications. Here he reported on the British Parliament, the Scottish clans, the German political leaders, General de Gaulle and a number of artists, amongst them Picasso and Giacometti.
Back in New York, 1955 was the year of his story on American Arts and Skills for ‘Life’ magazine, and the exhibition of his work in the Limelight Gallery.
In France in 1956, he reported for ‘Holiday’ magazine, making portraits of Braque, Dubuffet and Picasso.
The University of Miami awarded him the prize for photo journalism in 1957 when he also received the 'Best Annual Reporting' prize of the Ford Motor Company. In the same year he also traveled to England, Italy (the Vatican) and France on a reporting mission.
1958 was spent reporting for ‘Holiday’ magazine in Europe and Africa.
From 1959 He started his collaboration with ‘Look’ magazine.
Between 1960 and 1969 he reported on Cape Cod Artists for 'Horizon'; traveled widely (to Italy, Germany, Spain, Switzerland, France, UK, Canada, Mexico, Israel and Japan) on reporting missions and received the 'Newhouse’ prize from Syracuse University as well as the Fine Arts prize from the Philadelphia Museum (1961). Commissioned to work on the anniversary book of the Smithsonian Institution in 1965, he became adviser to the Department of Photography of the Museum of Israel in Jerusalem during the same year. A year later he prepared the publicity campaign for IBM and later published 'Bravo Stravinsky' in 1967. From 1968 he began teaching at New York's Cooper Union.
In the next decade (1970-1979) he worked with 'Travel & Leisure', and began traveling to Europe, Israel and throughout the US. Exhibitions were made of his work at the 'Light Gallery' of New York and 'George Eastman House'.
In 1974 'One Mind's Eye' was published and a year later 'Art Dealer’s Essay'. His current participation with the workshops of the State of Maine started in 1976. In 1979 his reporting for 'The Great British' was published and exhibited.
His first participation in the 'Rencontres Internationales de la Photographie' at Arles (France) dates from 1980, and was renewed in 1982 and 1985.
From 1981 until 1985 he traveled to Australia, Mexico, Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Egypt, Israel and France and started a series of 'Annual Reports' for 'The Commonwealth Fund'.
In 1986 a workshop and exhibition was organized in Finland and the Photographic Arts Museum of San Diego organized the exhibition of the book 'Arnold Newman: Five Decades'.
Various exhibitions of his work were held at the Museum of Modern Art of Caracas, Venezuela (1989), Australia and Budapest (1990), and at the Institute for Advanced Study of Princeton (1991).
In 1992 'Arnold Newman's Americans' was published and an exhibition of his works was held at the National Portrait Museum of Washington, DC.
In 1994 'Newman's Gift' was exhibited at the George Eastman House. The CBS program on Arnold Newman dates from 1995, and following that he received the ASMP Honorary Award of Orlando, Florida.
1999: His fiftieth wedding anniversary with Augusta coincided with his exhibition at the International Center of Photography in New York entitled 'Arnold Newman's Gift: 60 years of photography'. His book 'Arnold Newman' with Taschen publishers, and the photo of President Bill Clinton were also the fruit of this same year.
Biographical source: Patrimoine Photographique.
Art Lovers' Paris