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Eve Arnold 5 Things to Know Eve Arnold 5 Things to Know

Eve Arnold

5 Things to Know
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One of the most important photojournalists of the twentieth century, Eve Arnold had a prolific career documenting people both ordinary and famous. 

Discover 5 Things to Know about Eve Arnold and her incredible photography.

If you are interested in adding to your collection, speak to one of our art consultants now - email us at info@halcyongallery.com

Eve Arnold is best known for her tender and intimate photographs of Marilyn Monroe
Eve Arnold
Resting After a Plane Journey, Bement, Illinois , 1955
Silver gelatin print from original negative
100 x 150 cm
Edition of 49 + 5 AP

Eve Arnold is best known for her tender and intimate photographs of Marilyn Monroe

Arnold photographed Monroe on and off for a period of 10 years; the resulting portraits were published in book form in 1987. Her photographs of the actress offer a more intimate insight into her personality and life, often depicting pared-back and relaxed moments in comparison to the staged publicity shots and Hollywood glamour typically associated with the movie star.

She also documented the production of Marilyn Monroe’s ill-fated final film The Misfits (1961). During filming on location, Arnold saw the actress daily, capturing candid, behind the scenes insights in the blistering heat of the Nevada desert. The Misfits was written by Monroe’s husband, Arthur Miller – although their marriage was falling apart at the time of filming. The actress was also struggling with addiction to prescription drugs and alcohol: she sadly died within 18 months of the film’s release. Fellow cast member Clark Gable died just twelve days after filming had ended and another co-star, Montgomery Clift, died a five years later in 1966. The tragedy that surrounds the movie and the emotional strain of the production amplifies the haunting qualities of the photos captured by Arnold.

I never knew anyone who even came close to Marilyn in natural ability to use both photographer and still camera. She knew what to do. She would impose her psychic needs, her moods, her eroticism upon the session, working rapidly so that expression after fleeting expression wafted across her face… Mainly what was wanted was for her just to be herself.

Eve Arnold

 

Arnold was the first female photographer to join Magnum photos
Eve Arnold
Promotional Tour, Illinois, 1955
Silver gelatin print from original negative
150 x 100 cm
Edition of 49 + 5 AP

Arnold was the first female photographer to join Magnum photos

She first became associated with Magnum photos, a co-operative representing some of the world’s most renowned photographers, in 1951 when she submitted a picture essay on migrant labourers in Long Island. Arnold was a trailblazer in her field, being one of the first Western photojournalists to enter China in 1979, documenting the aftermath of the Cultural Revolution.

Arnold broke barriers by not only being a pioneering female photographer, but also being a champion of colour photography: 'Among my colleagues, a controversy arose about the merits of black and white versus colour', she recalled. 'The purists would say that colour is commerce and black and white is art … As for me, I am greedy and, not wanting to limit myself, will use whatever tool is at hand. So, depending upon the dictates of the mood and the moment, I will change from colour to black and white and back again, or will manage both simultaneously.'

Her work is thoroughly international, capturing key historical moments across the globe
Eve Arnold
Relaxing off set during the filming of The Misfits, 1960
Silver gelatin print from original negative
100 x 150 cm
Edition of 49 + 5 AP

Her work is thoroughly international, capturing key historical moments across the globe

The child of Russian-Jewish immigrants to the US, Arnold spent most of her life in the UK but travelled extensively for photographic assignments. As a photojournalist for Life magazine throughout the 60s and 70s, she covered a wide range of geographic locations, often fraught with socio-political issues: from the apartheid in South Africa to the former Soviet Union.

In a career-defining project, Arnold captured the lives of ordinary people living in China. Her trip required much perseverance: after applying annually for a visa for 15 years, she was finally granted the opportunity to capture the reality of the country after the death of Chairman Mao in 1976.  Following the success of this trip, the photographs were displayed in her first solo exhibition at the Brooklyn Museum in 1980 and her book In China was published the same year, winning the National Book Award.

Arnold’s career was dynamic in both subject and medium: while she considered herself primarily a photojournalist, she also wrote books and produced a film on the harems of Arabia, Behind the Veil.

I have been poor and I wanted to document poverty; I had lost a child and I was obsessed with birth; I was interested in politics and I wanted to know how it affected our lives; I am a woman and I wanted to know about women.

Eve Arnold

 

Her subjects were wide-ranging, from world leaders and movie stars to ordinary people at work
Eve Arnold
Press Meeting at The Ritz for The Prince and the Showgirl, 1957
Silver gelatin print from original negative
100 x 150 cm
Edition of 49 + 5 AP

Her subjects were wide-ranging, from world leaders and movie stars to ordinary people at work

In the 50s and 60s, she captured many of the political figures who shaped the course of history, including Senator Joseph McCarthy and General Eisenhower. One of her most significant assignments involved following Malcolm X for nearly a year, documenting his activism and numerous Nation of Islam rallies across America. A particularly tense rally involved photographing George Lincoln Rockwell, head of the American Nazi Party, who had developed an alliance with the Nation of Islam. Arnold’s composure and bravery in documenting these historic moments is testament to her commitment to capturing reality, no matter how unsettling.

Arnold’s portfolio deftly weaves between subjects from politics to fashion to film, immortalising era-defining figures including Yves Saint Laurent, Elizabeth Taylor, Marlene Dietrich and Charlie Chaplin. A shot of a young Queen Elizabeth II in 1968 sheltering under an umbrella, captured by Arnold in her characteristically naturalistic style, resides in the National Portrait Gallery, London.

Despite the diversity of subject matter, a constant throughline is Arnold’s aptitude for documenting spontaneous moments, often in a natural light with an unguarded pose. She frequently observed people as they worked, capturing everyday life in a non-invasive manner: ‘I looked for a sense of reality with everything I did’, Arnold reflected, ‘I didn't work in a studio, I didn't light anything.’

If a photographer cares about the people before the lens and is compassionate, much is given. It is the photographer, not the camera, that is the instrument.

Eve Arnold

Eve Arnold’s enduring legacy has been recognised with numerous honours and awards
Eve Arnold
Studio Ball, the first time Eve photographed Marilyn, 1951
Silver gelatin print from original negative
100 x 100 cm
Edition of 49 + 5 AP

Eve Arnold’s enduring legacy has been recognised with numerous honours and awards

Arnold was elected Master Photographer by the International Center of Photography, New York in 1995 and received an honorary OBE in 2003. She was awarded honorary degrees by three universities and won the prestigious Lifetime Achievement Award at the Sony World Photograph Awards in 2010.

Her transparencies, negatives and contact sheets are now retained by the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library at Yale University. She died in 2012, a few months before her 100th birthday. 

 

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