“Although my approach has become popularly known as environmental portraiture it only suggests a part of what I have been doing and am doing. Overlooked is that my approach is also symbolic and impressionistic or whatever label one cares to use.”
Arnold Newman, who photographed some of the world’s most eminent people set a standard for artistic interpretation and stylistic integrity in the post war age of picture magazines. A polished craftsman, Newman first learned his trade by making 49 cents studio portraits in Philadelphia, Baltimore, and West Palm Beach. He went on the become one of the world’s best-known and most admired photographers, his work appearing on the covers of magazines like Life and Look, in museum and gallery exhibitions, and in coffee table books.
In June of 1941, Beaumont Newhall, of the Museum of Modern Art, and Alfred Stieglitz “discovered” him, which helped begin his career. In 1945 his one-man exhibition at the Philadelphia Museum of Art attracted national attention. Well established he then moved to New York in 1946 and opened his own studio.
Arnold Newman was credited with popularizing a style of photography that became known as “environmental portraiture”. Working primarily on assignment for magazines, he carried his camera and lighting equipment to his subjects, capturing them in their surroundings and finding in those settings visual elements to evoke their professions and personalities.