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Arnold Abner Newman’s Biography


The late Arnold Abner Newman was born in the year 1918 in Manhattan. Arnold died in the year 2006 as one of the most successful American photographers. As a young boy, Arnold was raised in the city of Atlanta in New Jersey and Florida. At the age of 16 years, the young Arnold was enrolled in the University of Miami to study drawing and painting but dropped out of college and moved to work in a Philadelphia studio.

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In the year 1938, Arnold was able to make 49-cent portraits (Grundberg, 2006). At the age of 22 years, he moved back to Florida as a manager of a portrait studio. After three year, he was able to start his own portrait studio in Miami Beach. Arnold moved to New York in the year 1946 to establish the Arnold Newman Studios besides offering freelance photographer services to magazines such as the Newsweek, Fortune, and Life.

Background within Photography

As a photographer, Arnold was very successful as evidenced by many influential personalities he photographed such as Ronald Regan, Pablo Picasso, John F. Kennedy, and Piet Mondrian among others. He believed that a photograph must be very interesting and exciting to a viewer despite the image of the personality in the picture, known or unknown. Credited for the environmental portraiture, Arnold ensured that the images of his subjects are taken in a controlled environment to capture fine details of the life of such personality.

He fancied taking photographs of his subjects in their work environment to display their profession. For instance, personality such as John F. Kennedy was captured in the lawn of the White House to show that he was a president as attached in diagram 1 below (Grundberg, 2006). On the other hand, his portraits of musicians are captured either on the stage performing or recording studio. With the help of a tripod and large-layout camera, he perfected the art of recording fine details in a frame.

President John F. Kennedy
President John F. Kennedy, Year: 1967,

Although Arnold took colored photographs, his most recognized images were in black and white. For instance, the famous black and white picture of Igor Stravinsky besides his grand piano was one of his best signatures as attached in the diagram 2 below. Although the portrait was rejected by the magazine that gave Arnold the assignment, its popularity quickly spread across the globe. To cement his successful photography career, the colored portrait of Alfried Krupp, a former Nazi minister and industrialist, in his factory drew a mixture of criticism and praise.

However, the fine details captured in this particular frame in the year 1963 could not be disputed as attached in diagram 3 below. In a rare admission, Arnold confessed that his depiction of Krupp was largely influenced by personal feelings (Brookman, 2006).

Composer Igor Stravinsky
Composer Igor Stravinsky, Year: 1946, Size: 50*99
Industrialist Alfried Krupp
Industrialist Alfried Krupp, Year: 1963, size: 1945157

In his last days as an active photographer, Arnold is famed for capturing the image of James Burrows in the year 2005 within the NBC studio on the stage for the Saturday Night Live program as attached in diagram 4 below. This particular project was very special to the old Arnold because he had captured several portrait of James Burrow’s father several decades before (Grundberg, 2006).

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James Burrows
James Burrows, Year: 2005, Size: 12*15

Personal Reflection

Arnold Newman has had a successful career in photography and was a renowned tutor at the Cooper Union. In my view, his portraits are unique in the environmental setting and attention to fine details. Whether colored or black and white, Arnold’s portraits brought revolution in the art of photography.


Brookman, P. (2006). Arnold Newman. New York, NY: Taschen Publishers.

Grundberg, A. (2006). Arnold Newman, portrait photographer who captured the essence of his subjects, dies at 88. The New York Times, pp. B5-B6.

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