Tuesday Techniques: Arnold Newman’s Exhibition

As I mentioned in the previous post, I wanted to further highlight the Arnold Newman: Masterclass exhibition that was presented at the Contemporary Jewish Museum. As a portrait photographer, he utilized various techniques to capture the talents of many professionals. Throughout the exhibition, his portraits are set up in different categories. Those being photographed, or “sitters”, are placed in certain ways to really capture who they were, are and how they are remembered.

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For another “Tuesday Techniques”, here are the strategies used by Arnold Newman:

Sensibilities: Sitters are portrayed with a hint of doubt. They are vulnerable and a tad fragile looking.

Geometries: Contrasting blocks of shapes and shades.

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Lumen: Newman played with the idea of natural versus artificial light.

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Weavings: These are double-exposures and prints. They are meant to be spontaneous. Sometimes the photos are torn, leaving jagged edges to remind the audience that even a photograph can “break the rules” too.

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Signatures: Sitters are posing to explicitly show their talents.

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Searches: Newman intended on being a painter, but found that photography suited him best. Using “still lifes” he attempts to combine the two methods.

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Fronts: Powerful and active business professionals. Being constantly preoccupied, these hardworking men and women didn’t want to put too much focus into a photo shoot. Sometimes Newman would pretend to start packing up his things to spark their attention to him. They knew that this could be an opportunity for them to appear in something such as Life Magazine, so many of them would pose or make a certain expression to show their hierarchic power. Newman would try to counteract this by fiddling around or by making conversation to get them to relax. Tricky.

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Rhythmically: Newman didn’t want to photograph people statically. To add an artistic flair, he attempted to pull the eye to a certain direction. For example, he would have the sitter lean one way or another.

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Habitat: He never liked working in his own studio. He thought that one could gain real personality and character of a sitter by visiting and photographing in their studios. Not having full control over the environment, he saw this as a spontaneous approach that was a bit harder and riskier.

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It’s neat to see how and where these artists found inspiration. I also hadn’t realized all the different ways to capture a moment in one’s lifetime. Thank you Arnold Newman and the Contemporary Jewish Museum.

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