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Pop CulturePhotography

Arnold Newman: Masterclass

Oct 23, 2014–Feb 1, 2015

Arnold Newman (1918–2006) was one of the most productive, creative, influential, and successful portrait photographers of the twentieth century. With great sensitivity and care, he incorporated the personal environment, the work, and the intellectual background of the subject in his photographs.


For Newman, creating a successful portrait was a question of camera, lighting, film, and the cropping of a picture. His metaphorical studies of famous artists, creative professionals, scientists, intellectuals, and statesmen are formally and conceptually balanced compositions. Martha Graham, Philip Johnson, Marilyn Monroe, Grandma Moses, Salvador Dali, Max Ernst, and Pablo Picasso are only a few of his celebrated sitters. With his poignant and symbolic portraits, Newman set high artistic and aesthetic standards.

Arnold Newman: Masterclass includes 200 vintage black and white photographs which showcase Newman’s talent. This exhibition presents his most famous portraits, in addition to early street photography, architectural studies, and still lifes, as well as sheets with zoom and crop marks, which have never been shown publicly. With Masterclass, we gain insight about Newman’s approach to photography and his contribution to the field of portraiture. 

Arnold Newman: Masterclass has been organized by the Foundation for the Exhibition of Photography, Minneapolis, and the Harry Ransom Center, Austin.


Arnold Newman (1918–2006) in New York City to a relatively poor family of second-generation Jewish immigrants. He was raised in Atlantic City, New Jersey and Miami Beach, Florida, and studied art under a scholarship at the University of Miami from 1936 to 1938.

Newman began his career in photography in 1938 working at chain portrait studios in Philadelphia, Baltimore, and West Palm Beach, while outside of the studio he began working on his own in abstract and documentary photography. In June of 1941, Beaumont Newhall of the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) and photographer Alfred Stieglitz took note of his work, and he was given an exhibition with Ben Rose at the A.D. Gallery. In 1945, his solo exhibition at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, Artists Look Like This, attracted nationwide attention. Well established, Newman moved to New York in 1946 to open his own studio and became a member of the American Society of Magazine Photographers.

In his private life, Newman was a strongly Jewish-identified artist, but his work and public persona only occasionally revealed those concerns.

Newman’s work is collected and exhibited in major museums around the world including the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; The Museum of Modern Art, New York; The Chicago Art Institute; The Los Angeles County Museum of Art; The Philadelphia Museum of Art; The Tate Modern and the National Portrait Gallery, London; The Israel Museum, Jerusalem; and many other prominent museums in Europe, Japan, South America, and Australia.

Newman was an important contributor to publications such as New York, Vanity Fair, LIFE, Look, Harper’s Bazaar, Esquire, Town and Country, Scientific American, New York Times Magazine, and many others. He received major awards by leading professional organizations in the US and abroad including the American Society of Media Photographers, The International Center of Photography, The Lucie Award, The Royal Photographic Society Centenary Award as well as France’s “Commander of the Order of Arts and Letters.” In 2005, Photo District News named Newman as one of the 25 most influential living photographers. In 2006, Newman was awarded The Gold Medal for Photography by The National Arts Club. He was the recipient of nine honorary doctorates and lectured and conducted workshops throughout the country and the world.


Arnold Newman: Masterclass was organized by the Foundation for the Exhibition of Photography (FEP), Minneapolis, and the Harry Ransom Center, Austin.

Patron Sponsorship for The CJM’s presentation is provided by Baird and Joyce Linker. Supporting sponsorship is provided by Naomi and Jeffrey Caspe, Nellie and Max Levchin, Rosanne and Al Levitt, and Howard and Barbara Wollner. Participating sponsorship is provided by Paul Sack. Additional generous support is provided by Sheila Sosnow and Richard Nagler.

Major support for The Contemporary Jewish Museum’s exhibitions and Jewish Peoplehood Programs comes from the Koret Foundation.

Image Credit

Arnold Newman, Truman Capote, writer, New York, 1977. Gelatin silver print © 1977, 17 15/16 x 21 1/16 in. Arnold Newman/Getty Images.