Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

A Sense of Place; Newman's Subjects Ranged from Pablo Picasso to Woody Allen; PHOTOGRAPHY

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

A Sense of Place; Newman's Subjects Ranged from Pablo Picasso to Woody Allen; PHOTOGRAPHY

Article excerpt

As a photographer, Arnold Newman realized that capturing the essence of his subjects could only be enhanced by situating them in familiar places. As such, Newman helped to take portraiture out of the traditional atmosphere of the studio and into the world beyond its doors, while creating photographs as fascinating as the people they depicted.

Newman's subjects constituted a wide and impressive range of important figures, from visual artists Georgia O'Keefe, Pablo Picasso and Andy Warhol to choreographer-dancer Martha Graham, conductor Leonard Bernstein and composer Igor Stravinsky. Their portraits are among more than 60 included in "Arnold Newman: Luminaries of the Twentieth Century in Art, Politics and Culture," on view through Jan. 19 at the Sheldon Art Galleries.

The exhibition is part of the Sheldon Concert Hall's 100th anniversary celebration, said Olivia Lahs-Gonzales, director of the galleries.

"I was looking for some big-name artists to show, and there were several to choose from," she said. But the Newman exhibition stood out.

"It's called 'Luminaries of the Twentieth Century,' and the Sheldon's existence crosses the century. So I thought it would be fitting to show, historically, the kinds of people who were making cultural contributions during that time."

Newman, a native New Yorker who died in 2006 at age 88, is considered the "father of environmental portraiture," Lahs-Gonzales said.

"He changed the way people photographed people," she said. Rather than having his subjects pose in a studio, Newman "went to their cultural environments and photographed them with the 'stuff of their genius,' so to speak." His photographs "really tell stories about who these people were."

Newman's images are so striking in their own right that the fame of his subjects is rendered irrelevant. It's not necessary to recognize Stravinsky to be impressed with the angular beauty of a shot of the composer at a grand piano, perhaps contemplating his next masterwork. Influential urban planner Robert Moses seems very much in his element as he stands on a girder with New York - the city he did so much to shape - in the background. …

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