Beaumont Newhall

(1908 – 1993)

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Over the years, photography has been to me what a journal is to a writer — a record of things seen and experienced, moments in the flow of time, documents of significance to me, experiments in seeing. It has been important to me, as an historian of photography, to understand photography by photographing.

—Beaumont Newhall

Beaumont Newhall Biography

One of Beaumont Newhall’s earliest recollections was putting his hands in the hypo bath of his mother’s darkroom trays to see how this strange smelling chemical tasted. Thus began a life in photography, as curator, historian and practitioner.

Newhall came to the Museum of Modern Art in New York City as librarian in the early 1930s. In 1937, he was invited by the director,  Alfred Barr, Jr., to mount an exhibition: the first comprehensive retrospective of the 100 year-old art of photography. The illustrated exhibition catalog formed the basis of “The History of Photography,” which was the first volume to chronicle the medium’s development as an art form, not merely as a technical medium. The book is in its fifth printing and has been translated into five languages.

In l948, Newhall was named curator at George Eastman House in Rochester, New York, and served as its director from l958 to l97l. Under Newhall’s leadership, the museum established and built one of the greatest photographic collections in the world.

His personal photographic work was unveiled after his retirement from the museum world. Newhall’s photographs and writings chronicled his life and work throughout his extensive career as a photograph historian. He was greatly influenced by the German Expressionist movement, and his genius for composition is evident in his intimate portraits and architectural studies.

Ansel Adams, in his introduction to “In Plain Sight,” wrote that “Beaumont Newhall’s photographs express great breadth of vision and deep respect for his medium.” Newhall once said, “To me it is a constant source of wonder that the world becomes transformed through the finder of my camera.”

Prints priced individually.

selected publications:
The History of Photography
In Plain Sight
The Daguerreotype In America
The Latent Image
Photography: Essays and Images
Frederick H. Evans
P.H. Emerson- The Fight For Photography as a Fine Art

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