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San Diego Museum of Art opens Arnold Newman: Masterclass

The San Diego Museum of Art presents Arnold Newman: Masterclass on view June 29 through September 8, 2013. The exhibition will include 10 of the 59 Arnold Newman photographs in The San Diego Museum of Art’s Permanent Collection.

“Arnold Newman was one of the most compelling photographers of the 20th 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 his death in 2006, and presents one of the most comprehensive views of his career to date. Newman’s 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, New Jersey, 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 lead him in a new direction.

Throughout his career, which extended into his seventies, 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 He was so prolific that many of his works remain unpublished.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. Comprised of more than 200 photographs, the exhibition offers a master class in the form of an exhibition of work of one of the great American portrait photographers.

In San Diego, the exhibition takes on an additional element as the Museum marries Newman’s portraits with the work of his subjects. A nearby permanent collection installation will include photographs by Newman and works by the artists he portrays in his photographs. Audio guides and iPads will show visitors to the works of art in the Museum’s Permanent Collection created by many of the subjects featured in Newman’s work.

Lectures and films will accompany the exhibition:

Symposium: Saturday, August 3
Films in the Garden:
July 22: Sunset Boulevard
July 29: Rear Window
First Friday Films
September 6: Blow Up

For more details on related events, visit