Arnold Newman Passes at Age 88
Arnold Newman, D.F.A. ’81, whose portraits of some of the world’s most renowned and eminent people set the standard for interpretation and meaning died June 6 in Manhattan. He was 88.
Newman's portrait of composer Igor Stravinsky has been widely regarded as one of his finest works.
Newman was born in New York City 1918, one of three sons of a clothing manufacturer. In 1920, the family moved to Atlantic City, where his father became a merchant and managed several small hotels. Miami Beach was a favorite location of the Newman family, and the family spent part-years in South Florida, where Arnold graduated from high school and his father operated several resort hotels.
Newman attended the University of Miami for two years, studying painting on scholarship, but the costs of college were too much and he moved to Philadelphia to pursue portrait photography. In his spare time, be began taking social-documentary photographs, and after several years, returned to South Florida, first managing a portrait studio in West Palm Beach and then opening up his own studio in Miami Beach.
His frequent travel to New York led him to meet renowned photographic artists Alfred Stieglitz, Beaumont Newhall and Ansel Adams, among others, and through this exposure he was given the first of many exhibits. In 1948, he returned to New York City and opened his own studio.
Newman is most known for his approach of “environmental portraiture,” which he began and refined during World War II and the post-war era. Instead of a utilizing a static or sterile studio environment, Newman brought his lighting and camera equipment to the subject, capturing them in their characteristic surroundings and environments to add richness and personality.
Through his career, Newman captured the men, women and locations that made an indelliable mark on the second half of the 20th century. His portraits were telling and moving, revealing the personality and soul of the subject beyond simple images. He captured icons and villains, from Nazi industrialist Adolf Krupp to painter Pablo Picasso; Andy Warhol, Igor Stavnisky, Grandma Moses, Otto Frank, and countless others.
His portrait of American President Lyndon B. Johnson, one of nearly every President since John F. Kennedy, was chosen as the official White House portrait.
Despite a portfolio that reads as a “Who’s Who in the Post-War 20th Century,” Newman shunned celebrity himself and avoided subjects such as actors/actresses, rock stars, etc., people Newman deemed “famous for being famous.”