Photography in February – a tribute to Eve Arnold

Eve Arnold's PeopleIt seemed appropriate this month to dedicate our picks of the photography books to those the library holds on legendary photographer Eve Arnold – who died on the 5th of January this year. Eve Arnold’s People, the most recent book on the subject of her amazingly diverse and long career was published in 2009.

Born in Philadelphia in 1912, Arnold left medicine for a photographic career after receiving a Rolleicord as a present in 1946. These were the heydays of documentary photography and Arnold dived into it wholeheartedly with only 8 weeks of training. Her career really began in 1951 after the British Picture Post published a story she had shot in Harlem which no American magazine wanted to take on. In 1957 she joined the acclaimed Magnum photo agency, becoming their first female photographer. She moved to London in 1951 and used the city as her base for the rest of her life, while travelling extensively on her many assignments for publications such as Life, Esquire, Harper’s Bazaar, Geo, Epoca, Paris-Match and the Sunday Times.

A self-confessed workaholic, her work encompassed such diverse subjects as Hollywood stars (she will be most remembered for her intimate portraits of Marilyn Monroe, with whom she had a very long and productive professional relationship), but also (and as powerfully) underprivileged members of society – and even great heads of states. She travelled to China during a time when Westerners were only allowed in under strict supervision. She didn’t want to work under such conditions and relentlessly applied for a visa that would give her free rein. 10 years on, she was granted permission and in 1979 finally succeeded in making “a book about the lives of people, a book that would go beyond the ubiquitous blue suits and bicycles we had been seeing pictures of so many years”. She “wanted to penetrate their humanity, to get a sense of the sustaining character beneath the surface”. She travelled thousands of miles in the most remote parts of the country and documented “the tripod on which China had built her revolution – the peasant, the worker and the soldier”.

Compassionate, understanding, generous, courteous and soft-spoken were adjectives often used to describe this gentle woman. She took her work to heart and her work reflects it.

A new retrospective book on her whole career titled All about Eve, is about to be published by teNeues. Watch this space. It will be hot property! In the meantime – check out her most memorable shots in the Guardian and watch a slide show and interview produced by Magnum in Motion, or delve into our comprehensive collection of books dedicated to this inspiring photographer. Here are a few of the titles we hold:

Eve Arnold in Retrospect Marilyn Monroe: an appreciation Eve Arnold Film Journal Magna Brava - Magnum's Women Photographers

syndetics-lcHollywood Portraits
After having admired Eve Arnold’s stunning portraits of Marilyn Monroe, Joan Crawford, Marlene Dietrich, and Clark Gable among many others, this book is the perfect transition from looking at a great photographer’s portraits to making portraits of your own, in the classic Hollywood style. It provides useful insight on how to set up, light and shoot, based on specific examples described with diagrams and step-by-step instructions.

syndetics-lcRobert Rauschenberg Photographs 1949 – 1962
“Painter, sculptor, printmaker and photographer Robert Rauschenberg (1925-2008) provided a crucial bridge between Abstract Expressionism and Pop art. His exposure to photography while at Black Mountain College in North Carolina was so great that for a time he was unsure whether to pursue painting or photography as a career. Instead, he chose both, and found ways to fold photography into his Combines, maintained a practice of photographing friends and family, documented the evolution of artworks and occasionally dramatized them by inserting himself into the picture frame. This volume gathers and surveys for the first time Rauschenberg’s numerous uses of photography. It includes portraits of friends such as Cy Twombly, Jasper Johns, Merce Cunningham and John Cage, studio shots, photographs used in the Combines and Silkscreen paintings, photographs of lost artworks and works in process. This allows us to re-imagine almost the entirety of the artist’s output in light of his always inventive uses of photography, while also supplying previously unseen glimpses into his social milieu of the 1950s and early 60s. Considered one of the most innovative artists of his era, he died in 2008.” (Adapted from amazon.com)