SAN DIEGO, CALIF. — The San Diego Museum of Art will present the photographs of Arnold Newman in “Arnold Newman: Masterclass,” on view June 29–September 8. The exhibition, comprised of more than 200 photographs, will include 11 of the 59 Arnold Newman photographs in the museum’s permanent collection.
“Arnold Newman was one of the most compelling photographers of the Twentieth Century,” said Roxana Velásquez, executive director of the San Diego Museum of Art. “His portraits of artists are iconic and dynamic. This talented portrait photographer will engage all audiences, and the exhibition will offer new ways to experience the history of modern art, modern photography and the many artists he portrayed.”
This retrospective is the first since the Newman’s death in 2006, and presents one of the most comprehensive views of his career to date. His practice of revealing the subject of a portrait in relation to a closely linked space has often been described as “environmental portraiture.” The photographer believed a man or woman should be admired for concrete accomplishments, not for some mystical idea of “inner” qualities. Hence he depicted Stravinsky at a piano, Picasso posed in his studio and powerful senators and businessmen captured in rooms full of the trappings of power.
Born in New York, Newman spent time in Florida and in Atlantic City, N.J., and came of age during the economic depression of the 1930s. He attended university in Florida for two years on scholarship, but without funding support, he was not able to continue his studies. At the time, Newman was interested in painting, but a chance encounter with an old family friend and owner of a photography studio led him in a new direction.
Throughout his career, which extended into his 70s, Newman created some 8,000 pictures. He was so prolific that many of his works remain unpublished. Newman was less concerned with printing limited editions of photographic series and more interested in getting his pictures in the hands of others. His populist approach was widely embraced. As he befriended fellow artists, each would introduce him to another artist. In many cases, Newman’s photographs became the iconic image of the sitter: Pablo Picasso, Georgia O’Keeffe, Salvador Dali, Norman Mailer and Truman Capote, among others.
“Arnold Newman: Masterclass” features the portraits of artists, writers, scientists, political figures, business leaders and everyday people on which his reputation was founded, but it also allows visitors a view of Newman’s lesser-known works of landscape, architectural and abstract photography.
The San Diego Museum of Art is at 1450 El Prado in Balboa Park. For further information, 619-232-7931 or www.thesandiegomuseumofart.org.