Eve Arnold, the first woman to become a Magnum photojournalist, died last Wednesday at the age of 99. An American expatriate, she lived in Great Britain for many decades.
From The Telegraph, the story of her two most important early lessons:
Eve Arnold was self-taught, her only tuition being a brief course in 1948 with Alexey Brodovitch, the celebrated art director of Harper’s Bazaar, at the New School for Social Research in New York. The class, which included ambitious professionals such as Richard Avedon, mercilessly criticised Eve Arnold’s amateur efforts.
For the class assignment, however, Arnold ventured into Harlem to record the black fashion shows that took place daily in deconsecrated churches. On seeing her, the hitherto feline star model "Fabulous" Charlotte Stribling began to mince down the catwalk like a white model. "Lesson number one," recalled Arnold, "pay attention to the intrusion of the camera." In the next class, Brodovitch singled out her pictures for their freshness.
As no American magazine of the period would publish photographs of black people, Eve Arnold’s husband sent her pictures to Britain — to his friend Tom Hopkinson, the editor of Picture Post. The pictures were printed but the text changed, so that its tone was snide. Henceforth, vowed Arnold, everything she wanted to say would be in the photograph.
There are encomia all over the web, including:
The obituary from the World's Best Photography Magazine;
An excellent video presentation of her and her work at Magnum;
Another article from her adopted country; and
Her most recent and most accessible book of the sixteen or so she published. A new book, All About Eve, will be published by teNeues next month, on February 15th, and can be pre-ordered now. I hope she got to see it.
(Thanks to Doug Howk)
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Original contents copyright 2011 by Michael C. Johnston and/or the bylined author. All Rights Reserved.