Boca Raton Museum of Art to exhibit Arnold Newman: Masterclass April 21 through July 3, 2016

Boca Raton Museum of Art

Arnold Newman (1918-2006) was one of the most productive, creative, and successful portrait photographers of the twentieth century. For sixty-six years he applied himself to his art and craft, and was recognized by regular publication in the most influential magazines of the day, major solo exhibitions, and appearances in many of the world’s most prestigious photography collections.

This major retrospective exhibition includes 200 mainly black-and-white photographs showcasing the photographer’s remarkable talent.  Famous sitters range from painters, writers, and musicians to businessmen, bankers, and leaders of industry, and include Andy Warhol, Truman Capote, Marc Chagall, J.F. Kennedy, Marilyn Monroe, Pablo Picasso, and Igor Stravinsky. 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 space.  Though the exhibition is largely devoted to Newman’s individual and group portraits, the exhibition also features a select number of abstractions, landscapes, architectural details, and cityscapes as well as photographs made during the period he lived in Florida.

Newman was raised and attended schools in Atlantic City and Miami Beach.  He studied painting and drawing at the University of Miami, Coral Gables from 1936 to 1938.  Unable to afford continuing after two years, he moved to Philadelphia to work for a studio making 49-cent portraits.  In June of 1941, Beaumont Newhall of the Museum of Modern Art and Alfred Stieglitz “discovered” him, and he was given an exhibition with Ben Roe at the A.D. Gallery in September.  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. 

Arnold Newman: Masterclass was organized by the Foundation for the Exhibition of Photography (FEP) in collaboration with the Harry Ransom Center, which is part of the University of Texas at Austin.  The exhibition was curated by William A. Ewing, independent photography curator and former director of the Musée de l’Elysée in Lausanne.  A fully-illustrated catalogue (Thames & Hudson) accompanies the exhibition.

Said William A. Ewing:  “A keen reader of illustrated magazines such as Harper’s Bazaar and Vanity Fair, Newman cut out portraits by artist-photographers.  Of Edward Steichen and Man Ray in particular, he acknowledged, “They opened my eyes.”  That Steichen was also highly paid did not go unnoticed by the aspiring photographer.  Still, Newman concluded that Steichen and his kind were not doing what he wanted to do:  They photographed artists, or their studios, but seldom the artist in the studio.  Such photographs missed a vital dimension in Newman’s eyes; there was “no conscious effort to show where they lived, where they worked, no conscious effort to bring it together into a creative whole…to make it say something as well as being a visual hold.”

Said Todd Brandow, Executive Director of FEP:  “Newman was a great teacher, and he loved sharing his knowledge.  He was blunt but direct, mitigating tough criticism with good-natured banter.  He had principles in which he deeply believed, and he seems to have known how to impart them.  Thankfully he gave many interviews, which have been transcribed, and what he had to say was consistent in its essentials from the first to the last.  It was these “lessons” that led us to the concept of “Masterclass”; the idea that, even posthumously, Arnold Newman could go on teaching all of us – whether connoisseurs or neophytes – a great deal.”

Support for this exhibition is generously provided by Jennifer & Marc Bell, Beatrice Cummings Mayer, and Christine & Peter Raimondi. Additional support is provided in part by the City of Boca Raton; the Board of County Commissioners, the Tourist Development Council and the Cultural Council of Palm Beach County; the State of Florida, Department of State, Division of Cultural Affairs and the Florida Council on Arts and Culture. Additional support is generously provided by our Members and Donors.


High resolution images and accompanying captions can be downloaded via Dropbox: